Classroom Resources

Interested in the presidents and the role of the presidency in the United States? Want to learn more about the lives of remarkable Americans, past and present, who have contributed to the nation’s history and culture? The Portrait Gallery has a variety of resources for the classroom that have been developed to complement our exhibitions.


cover of the curriculum guide

Expanding Roles of Women Curriculum Guide

In this interdisciplinary curriculum guide, portraits from the exhibition Out of Many: Portraits from 1600 to 1900 are used as entry points to teach about the history of women in the United States from the colonial period to the dawn of the twentieth century. 

Students will not only learn about the portraits’ subjects and artists but will also gain insight into the larger historical period. By studying these works of art, students will come to understand how the women portrayed located agency. Furthermore, students will reflect on the present by considering how women today continue to bring about societal change.

>> Expanding Roles of Women Curriculum Guide (pdf)

>> Expanding Roles of Women Learning Lab Collection


Young African American woman seated in a green chair surrounded by stringed instruments

Learn with Google Arts & Culture: Portraiture and Identity

In partnership with Google Arts and Culture, the Portrait Gallery has developed new online curricula that explores identity through portraiture and the ways in which artist and sitters use portraiture as a means to convey individual, community/cultural, national and global identity. Students will explore the Portrait Gallery’s Google Arts and Culture exhibitions and images related to the lesson topic. 

colorful landscape as learning lab homepage

Learning Lab Collections

The National Portrait Gallery is meeting teachers and students where they are! Check out more than 125 Learning Lab collections created by Portrait Gallery educators and classroom teachers. The Learning Lab is a free, interactive platform for discovering millions of authentic digital resources, creating content with online tools, and sharing in the Smithsonian's expansive community of knowledge and learning.

>> Visit the Learning Lab

portrait of a woman in a straw hat and red dress

Teacher Playlist on YouTube

Integrating portraiture into the classroom can provide exciting opportunities to connect students with history, biography, visual art, and many other subjects. Check out the Teacher Playlist on the National Portrait Gallery’s YouTube channel for videos highlighting strategies on how to "read" artworks and ways of bringing portraiture into the classroom.

>> View the playlist on YouTube

View and print our online materials or download them as PDF files. Visit our online collections to search, browse, and augment your lesson plans.

Portrait “reading” encourages the visual analysis of a piece of art as if it were a historical document.
Do you teach about the US Presidents in your classroom? Visit the America’s Presidents online exhibition and discover the breadth of the museum’s collection of portraits of the Presidents.
Learn how to analyze a portrait by observing various elements
Through activities, games, and puzzles, this Teacher Resource Guide will introduce students to the Presidents and the role of the presidency in American history.
This guide will help you facilitate Reading Portraiture experiences and Looking Strategies with your students as you explore our collection.
This guide will help you and your students think about how we perceive and commemorate people from our history and will ask you to consider how portraiture has changed and remained the same over the past two centuries using highlights from the National Po
This guide will help you facilitate a rich gallery visit that supports English Language Arts standards of learning.
This guide will help you facilitate “Reading Portraiture” experiences with your students as you explore our American Origins and America’s Presidents exhibitions.
This guide will help you facilitate “Reading Portraiture” experiences with your students as you explore The Struggle for Justice and 20th Century Americans
This guide will help you facilitate Reading Portraiture experiences and Looking Strategies with your students as you explore our collection.
7 creative ways to vew a portrait.
This thinking routine helps students develop thoughtful interpretations by encouraging them to reason with evidence.
Use the Venn diagram to compare and contrast two different portraits.
Complete the Top Hat using two different portraits in the same gallery
Find a portrait that fascinates you, that “tickles your fancy.”
Find a portrait. If you could jump into this portrait, where would you like to be?
Learn the key terms that are used to describe a work of art in a museum
Choose an artwork and pretend to step inside it.
A fantastic routine to start with – works with any portrait!
Use the worksheet to reflect on your visit to the National Portrait Gallery
The memoir should teach the reader about the sitter’s contributions, significance, era, appearance, emotions, or actions.
Use this worksheet to think about the portraits you have seen
Find portraits that interest you in a variety time periods.
This close-looking activity allows the viewer to uncover the many layers of meaning in an artwork.