For Teens

Teen Museum Council

The National Portrait Gallery invites you to join its Teen Museum Council. Teen Museum Council is an intensive program for D.C.-area teens (grades 9–12) who are interested in developing leadership skills, learning about themselves through portraiture and art and making the Portrait Gallery an engaging place for teenagers. Teen Museum Council, also known as TMC, is a program for teens by teens to foster more interest in museums and create a community for local teens. 

TMC members have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities. These include creating teen-centered events and participating in workshops and training sessions with museum professionals. In the process, they will gain experience at the museum while developing creative and critical thinking skills. Teen Museum Council meets once a week during the school year and requires a year-long commitment.

>> National Portrait Gallery Teen Museum Council Application

NOTEApplications will be accepted until June 28, 2024 for the 24-25 Academic Year. 

Teen Portrait Competition

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has announced Sara Sonnenblick of Florida and Otto Graunewald of Michigan as the grand-prize winners of the museum’s nationwide Teen Portrait Competition in 2022. Inspired by the museum’s triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, the Teen Portrait Competition is open to students between the ages of 13 and 17 residing in the U.S. and its territories. The Competition yielded eight finalists, with Sonnenblick and Graunewald winning the top prize in their respective age categories. Their grand prize-winning photographs were on view in the Portrait Gallery from July 29, 2022 through Feb. 26, 2023.  

View the online exhibition of 2022's winners and finalists

Other Teen Opportunities

Teen Graphic Novel Reading Group

Teens are invited to join us as we discuss a selection of graphic novels inspired by the sitters in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. Through group discussion about autobiographies, fantasy, and historical fiction, attendees will develop visual literacy and critical thinking skills. Open to teens ages 13–19. Free- Registration required via EventBrite

Teen Conversation Circles

Calling teen English-language learners! Join National Portrait Gallery educators and friends from all over the world. Together we’ll use portraiture to learn about U.S. art, history and culture. This program takes place every other week. It alternates between in-person gatherings (meet in the G Street Lobby) and virtual conversations on Zoom (v). Meet new friends, learn about different cultures and practice your English. Open to teens ages 13–19. Free- Registration required via EventBrite.  

Group photo of the Teen Museum council - a young diverse group of 13 students

For Teens, By Teens

Focus Groups

In Person: January 25 @ 5PM, February 21@ 5PM, March 1 @ 5PM & April 20@ 12PM 

Virtual sessions: January 31 @ 5 PM, February 12@ 5PM & March 16 @ 12PM

Are you a teen and want to have a say in the Portrait Gallery’s teen programming? Here’s your chance! Attend one of our focus groups to help build programming for teens, by teens. Attendees will be eligible to receive community service hours. Email for more information about how to participate.

Two teens in the museum galleries, presenting a video portrait of musician Esparanza Spalding