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 National Portrait Gallery professional development workshops will be virtual for the 2020-2021 academic year. All workshops require preregistration here. Zoom links for workshops will be sent 24-48 hours in advance.


NPG Virtual Teacher Workshops, 2020–2021

African American woman standing by a globe

Harmon Foundation Collection: Fighting Prejudice with Portraiture

Tuesday, December 1, 2020
4:30-6:00pm Eastern Time

Join the National Portrait Gallery for a close look at portraits from the Harmon Foundation Collection. The portraits were part of an attempt in the 1940s and 1950s to counter racist stereotypes and racial prejudice through portraiture and premiered at the Smithsonian Institution in 1944. We’ll discuss the history of these portraits, the people represented, and how to use these images in your classroom.

drawing of a black man with head in hand

National Portrait Gallery for Librarians

Wednesday, December 9, 2020
5:00-6:30pm Eastern Time

Librarians and Media Specialists, join the National Portrait Gallery for a professional development workshop created just for you! The librarians' job can be twofold - the curation of resources and the teaching of methods for our students to investigate those resources, in this case, portraits. Discover ways in which librarians can be guides in helping teachers and students not only access Portrait Gallery resources but utilize methods to use those resources in engaging and impactful student learning.

Black woman with glasses seated at a desk talking

#BecauseOfHerStory: The Power of Posters  

Thursday, January 7, 2021 
3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time 

Posters and prints are an immediately accessible and iconic art form; they are in our bedrooms, our classrooms, and in the protests in our streets. What can we learn from the way posters communicate visually? In this online workshop for K-12 educators, explore posters that focus on women’s stories and experience adaptable teaching strategies. This workshop is co-facilitated by educators at the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum.

two teen girls sitting in a gallery

NPG Teen Museum Council Presents: Our Favorite Things

Tuesday, March 24, 2021
4:30–5:30pm Eastern Time

The National Portrait Gallery’s Teen Museum Council (TMC) is comprised of high school students from Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia who meet weekly to engage with the Portrait Gallery’s collections and create dynamic programming for their peers. Join the TMC as they discuss some of their favorite portraits in our collection and the thinking routines and methods they suggest using in the classroom.

Please register for all virtual professional development workshops at https://npg.eventbrite.com

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


Portraits (top to bottom):

  • Chien-Shiung Wu by Lynn Gilbert / Inkjet print, 1978 (printed 2014) / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired through the generosity of friends of Linda Thrift, in recognition of her many years of service to the National Portrait Gallery / © 2016, Lynn Gilbert
  • Mary McLeod Bethune by Betsy Graves Reyneau / Oil on canvas, 1943 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Harmon Foundation / © Peter Edward Fayard
  • Langston Hughes by Winold Reiss / Pastel on illustration board, c. 1925 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of W. Tjark Reiss, in memory of his father, Winold Reiss / © Estate of Winold Reiss
  • Shirley Chisholm by Unidentified Artist / 1972, Poster / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution