Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute will not be held in summer 2021. Instead, the Portrait Gallery, along with five other Smithsonian museums, will host two virtual summer teacher institutes, called the Smithsonian Summer Sessions. The dates for these institutes will be June 28-July 2 and July 12-16, 2021.
Integrating portraiture into the classroom provides exciting opportunities to connect students with history, biography, visual art, and many other subjects. The National Portrait Gallery collection presents the wonderful diversity of individuals who have left—and are leaving—their mark on our country and our culture. The museum portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.
The Summer Teacher Institute will take a broad look at the Portrait Gallery's collection. During the institute, the museum's curators and historians will provide in-gallery content lectures, introducing the collection. Utilizing an interactive approach, NPG educators will model a variety of "learning to look" strategies—unique ways to hook and engage students when they look closely at portraits. Participants will learn how to "read" portraiture and use the artworks as a springboard into a more in-depth discussion about biography and history. Teachers in grades kindergarten-12 may apply as individuals or as part of a team. Priority will be given to social studies, English/language arts, and visual arts teachers.