Adult Education

Dropping by the museum during your lunch hour or stopping by after work? We have many programs designed specifically for portrait enthusiasts and history buffs. See our events calendar for a full list of events and programs. 


IDENTIFY: Performance Art Series
Experience portraiture through performance and embrace new forms of expression. The museum’s first performance art series draws from personal stories, forgotten histories, and lost voices. The series fills the gaps in the museum’s historic collection by focusing on activism and visibility with contemporary artists experimenting with portrayal.

Artist in Residence
Inspired by the Portrait Gallery’s exhibitions and collections, through 2019, Dana Tai Soon Burgess, the museum’s first choreographer in residence, creates new works, performances, and workshops on the American experience. Check out our calendar listings for more information on upcoming programs.


America Now
America Now is a three-museum collaboration with the National Museum of American History and Smithsonian American Art Museum. Through annual programming, the Portrait Gallery highlights identity, shared American cultural values, and themes found in history and art.

When the temperatures heat up, come get cool in the Kogod Courtyard with drinks, art, tours, and the Hhottest DJs. These monthly evening programs run from March to August and are free to the public. Stop by after work, bring your friends, bring a date, and enjoy an evening of music and art at the National Portrait Gallery.

Author Talks
The Portrait Gallery invites artists and authors who have created visual and historical portraits of sitters in our permanent collection or special exhibitions to share their impressions of the sitters who’ve moved them. How does our collection of portraits, via the artist’s or author’s creation, contribute to the national understanding of the sitters’ place in art and history? Please check our calendar for next upcoming talk. Films The Portrait Gallery partners with individual film producers and film festivals to present screenings of films that increase our knowledge about sitters in the collection. Please check our calendar for our next screening.


Open Studio

Visitors of all ages and artistic abilities learn more about the artistic process through weekly drop-in workshops exploring new materials and techniques. A great way to kick start the weekend, unwind, and release your inner artist. Fridays, 1–6 p.m., Education Center, E151.

Strike a Prose

Spark your imagination and let the National Portrait Gallery inspire you in an informal creative writing session for adults. Led by local writers and museum educators, this workshop series uses the Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection and special exhibitions as a springboard for writing in the galleries. Through looking, reading, discussion, and writing, participants will experience our portraits through a different lens.

Everyone is welcome, from beginner to advanced, as the workshops are designed for all skill levels. Materials are provided. This program is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required due to limited space. Check out our calendar for the next workshop series.

Thursdays at Noon

There’s something happening every Thursday at noon at the National Portrait Gallery. Whether you are “Slow Looking” at one portrait, experiencing three portraits in thirty minutes with “3 in 30,” discovering people and faces from American history you might not know with “Overlooked,” or uncovering the story of a new portrait in the collection with “Curator’s Choice,” we’ve got you covered. Meet inside the G Street entrance every Thursday at noon.

Conversation Circle

Practice English and meet new people through discussions about American history, culture, and art. The Conversation Circle program leads participants on a chronological walk through history, with a new focus and different portraits each week. Discussion questions and activities encourage participants to connect with each other and share their own cultural experiences. This drop-in program takes place every Friday from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Meet in the G Street lobby. In partnership with the DC Public Library.

Drawn to Figures
From faces and hands to pose and clothing, this adult sketching workshop focuses on the fundamentals of portraiture. Artist Jill Galloway combines in-gallery discussions with step-by-step drawing techniques in a program that is one part art history and one part studio art.

This workshop is open to artists ages 18 and up of all levels and abilities. Materials and aprons are provided. This program is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required due to limited space. Check out our calendar for the next workshop series.

Docent Tours

Docent-led Walk-In Tour Schedule

Bring the family or a friend and experience the Portrait Gallery by exploring the portraits and the building’s rich history. Portrait Gallery docents give tours 364 days per year! Tours are subject to cancellation or schedule changes, please visit our events calendar to verify times.

Monday–Friday: noon and 2:30 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 11:45 a.m. and 1:30, 3:15, and 4:30 p.m.

Joint Tours with the American Art Museum

Joint Tours of the Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum take place weekly at 1:00 p.m., so drop in for this lively tour of both museums! Tours are subject to docent availability; last-minute cancellations may occur. Please check our events calendar.

Group Tours

Tours of “America’s Presidents,” our permanent collections, highlights of the National Portrait Gallery, and temporary exhibitions are available for groups of 10 to 25 people by Portrait Gallery curators and docents. Group reservations are required and a six-week advance notice is appreciated. All tours are subject to availability; last-minute cancellations may occur.

To reserve a tour for:

  • Non-profit community-based clubs, U.S. state and federal government, or U.S. military groups, please fill out our Tour Group Reservation Request Form. Should you have questions, please call 202-633-8519.
  • Other companies, organizations, and groups interested in booking a tour, including before and after-hours tours, can do so by joining the Corporate Circle, Portrait Circle, or by making a contribution. Please call (202) 633-2801 or email Caroline Passano at for additional information.

Cancellation Policy: Should you need to cancel your group’s reservation, please call (202) 633-2801 at least 48 hours prior to your confirmed tour time as we will need to notify your docent guide(s). If this is a paid tour, we will work with you to reschedule your group’s tour within one calendar year from the date of your original tour confirmation date