Your digital guide to the museum

Make the most of your time at the National Portrait Gallery with free audio guides and collection tours.


About Smartify

Smartify is the all in one arts and culture app. Available on iOS, Android and mobile web, it's the easiest way to explore the museum and hear the stories behind the collection.

>> Learn more about Smartify

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Be your own guide

Explore the collection at your own pace with Smartify as an expert in your pocket. Download the app to use the image recognition (IR) technology. When a portrait catches your eye, scan it to discover its story.

Try it out with the image on left.

Download the app before you visit or, using the museum's free Wi-Fi, scan the QR codes within the exhibition spaces. Remember to bring your own headphones with you so that you can listen to the audio content as you explore.

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You can also enjoy all the audio guides at home on your desktop, laptop or mobile device. Just choose one of the tours below to get started.


Collection Highlights Tour

Discover selected works from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection alongside works from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. With guest speakers including Kay Walkingstick, Alison Saar and Secretary Lonnie Bunch, deep dive into some  of the most exciting works in our museums and discover new ways to experience them.


Historic Building Tour

Did you know, our building was the original U.S. Patent Office? The third oldest building in DC! Far more than a simple civic space, the Patent Office was the heart of America’s early drive to inspire innovation. In this building, thousands of miniature patent models were displayed for the public to learn from. Going on to host Lincoln’s 2nd inaugural ball, wounded soldiers during the Civil War and poet Walt Whitman, our building has a storied history. Featuring the voices of Charles Robertson, National Portrait Gallery Choreographer in Residence, Dana Tai Soon Burgess and the architect Annabelle Selldorf. Take this tour and uncover the secrets within our walls.



Perspectives: The Atlantic’s Writers at the National Portrait Gallery

This audio tour, available online, features portraits of significant figures in literature, politics, philosophy, and culture who have contributed to The Atlantic during its long history. Each portrait is accompanied by the voiced commentary of a contemporary Atlantic writer reflecting on the life and legacy of a historical influencer (such as Louisa May Alcott, Frederick Douglass, and Booker T. Washington) or a more recent figure (such as Martin Luther King, Jr. or John Lewis). Through portraiture, biography, and interpretation, the audio tour highlights individuals who have helped shape the trajectory from abolition to the civil rights era and contemporary social justice movements.


America's Presidents

The nation’s only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House, this exhibition lies at the heart of the Portrait Gallery’s mission to tell the American story through the individuals who have shaped it.  The tour is arranged into six historical chapters. Each of the first five sections is organized around a historical era and leads off with a presidential figure: Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, while a sixth section examines the more recent history of the presidency. 

This tour is available in English and Spanish


The Struggle for Justice

The history of democracy in the United States has not always been characterized by wide participation or inclusiveness. Over the past two-and-a-half centuries, the nation has transformed from thirteen states along the Eastern Seaboard governed by a white, male, land-owning elite to a vast country led by an increasingly heterogeneous population.

The individuals represented here are just a few of the countless citizens who have worked to advance the status of women; racial and ethnic minorities; LGBTQ+ individuals; and persons with physical and intellectual differences. Their triumphs have recast the contours of society and paved the way for the ongoing efforts to bring equal opportunity to all. 

This tour is available in English and Spanish