Teacher Workshops

Be inspired to use portraiture in your classroom. No matter what subject you teach—social studies, English, or visual arts—you will learn and practice techniques to involve your students in creative and innovative ways. By using portraiture as a springboard into deeper discussions about biography and our collective history, the Portrait Gallery strives to create an unprecedented experience for teachers as we gain a glimpse into the past and examine the present.

All workshops require preregistration and include interactive tours of a selected exhibition, hands-on components, and take-away resources that provide teachers with innovative ideas and techniques they can adapt for classroom use. All programs begin in the National Portrait Gallery’s Education Center, Room E151, in the “American Origins” exhibition on the first floor (unless otherwise noted).

Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute

The Summer Teacher Institute takes a broad look at the Portrait Gallery's collection. During the institute, the museum's curators and historians provide in-gallery content lectures, introducing the collection. Utilizing an interactive approach, NPG educators model a variety of "learning to look" strategies—unique ways to hook and engage students when they look closely at portraits.

Read more about this program >>

Curator giving a talk to a group of teachers


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.

Register for workshops >>


Perspectives in Portraiture: Exploring the Theme of Social Justice

Saturday, January 26, 2019
9:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Location: MacMillan Education Center

Social justice and activism are common threads throughout the American story. Join us and learn from fellow educators who have been immersed in the Portrait Gallery as multi-year advisors to the education department. We will take a broad look at the Portrait Gallery’s collection to examine how to use portraiture as a tool to explore these themes in your classroom. We will introduce stories of social justice and model strategies that encourage activism through art, writing and action.


black and white photo of a civil rights protest


Express Yourself: Creating a Graphic Novel Exploring Identity

Saturday, May 11, 2019
9:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Location: NPG Education Center

Considering the growing popularity of the graphic novel, could they be a venue for your students to explore and express identity? A classroom art teacher and Portrait Gallery educator will lead you through interactive activities that incorporate building the structure of comic book and graphic novel pages. Utilizing the special exhibition Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today, participants will take a close look self-portraiture as a means of exploring identity. This workshop will include both gallery and studio experiences. Be ready to create!


six graphical portraits of the artist on a single page