Teacher Workshops

Be inspired to use portraiture in your classroom. No matter what subject you teach, 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.

The Portrait Gallery is pleased to offer both virtual and on-site teacher workshops for the 2023-2024 academic year. Please register for all workshops on the Portrait Gallery's Eventbrite page. Looking forward to seeing you in the galleries or on Zoom. 

waist length detail of portrait of a man in a black suit


Rediscovering Lincoln: The Travers Portrait and Lincoln’s Complex Legacy 

G Street Lobby 
Saturday, September 30, 2023 |  9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

Unravel Abraham Lincoln’s complex legacy with museum educators from the National Portrait Gallery, President Lincoln’s Cottage and Ford’s Theatre. In this three-hour workshop, participants will analyze W.F.K. Travers 1865 life-size painting of the 16th president and discuss Lincoln’s role in the emancipation of four million African Americans. They will also look closely at several monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C., honoring Lincoln to discover how art reflects the arc of his evolving legacy. 


battleships on fire in a harbor

1898: U.S. Imperial Visions and Revisions 

NPG Education Center, E151 
Wednesday, October 18, 2023  | 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. 

Explore the first major Smithsonian museum exhibition to examine the War of 1898 (often called the Spanish-American War), the Congressional Joint Resolution to annex Hawai‘i (July 1898), the Philippine-American War (1899–1913) and the legacy of this controversial chapter in history. Consider how portraiture and visual culture present the perspectives of those who advocated for overseas expansion, those who opposed it and those who tried to have agency over their political futures when the United States brought Cuba, Guam, Hawai‘i, Puerto Rico and the Philippines into its sphere of power. 


young woman in front of a window holding a baby


Mindfulness and Portraiture 

G Street Lobby 
Saturday, November 4, 2023 | 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. 

In this workshop, we will explore the ways contemporary portraiture in the “Kinship” exhibition can bring our awareness to the current moment. "Kinship" features the work of eight contemporary artists who illuminate the complexities of our closest interpersonal relationships through portraiture. Participants will make connections between mindful practices and exploring an artwork. This workshop will include both gallery and studio experiences.


cover of the guide featuring two 19th century women


Introducing the Portrait Gallery's New Issue Guide: What Kind of Nation Do We Want to Be? 

Wednesday, November 15, 2023 
4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (in-person; NPG Education Center, E151) 

Wednesday, December 6, 2023 
4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (virtual) 

Join the Portrait Gallery for a workshop that unveils our new historic issue deliberation guide. Teachers will be introduced to the guide’s theme – the social and political challenges facing the United States in the 1890s – and given a chance to explore and discuss how this guide can be used in the classroom. This guide will offer students a structured format for understanding multiple (and often underrepresented) perspectives on an issue; a chance to empathize with human experiences different from their own; and a way to collaborate with others to listen, build ideas, and find common ground. Teachers will receive a digital copy of the guide. 


daguerreotype of a Black man


Exploring the Life of Frederick Douglass  

NPG Education Center, E151 
Tuesday, February 13, 2024  | 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. 

This workshop will highlight the long arc and significance of Frederick Douglass’s life: from enslaved individual and fugitive to internationally acclaimed abolitionist, women’s rights activist, and statesman. Teachers will consider his influences before and after the Civil War as well as his ongoing legacy. Today, his portraits and writings still inspire people to seek “all rights for all” – one of his mottos. 


3/4 length portrait of a Black man in a blue suit


Examining Civic Learning Week with the National Portrait Gallery 

G Street Lobby 
Saturday, March 9, 2024 | 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

Kick off Civic Learning Week with the National Portrait Gallery and the museum’s Teacher Advisory Board. Each year Civic Learning Week unites students, educators and others to energize the movement for civic education across the nation. In this workshop, teachers will be introduced to engaging civic learning opportunities using the museum’s collection and the Educating for American Democracy Framework.