AAA Editor Notes
National Portrait Gallery is at 8th and F sts. N.W. Devoted exclusively to portraiture, its collections reflect the connection between American history, biography and art. Portrayed are poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, and actors and activists, all of whose lives tell the American story.
The best-known permanent exhibition is America's Presidents; aside from the White House collection, this is the only museum where you can view portraits of every U.S. president. Visitors will see an enhanced and extended display of multiple images of all U.S. presidents, including portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. Presidents from FDR to Bill Clinton are featured in a video component of the exhibition.
Paintings of Native Americans and early American innovators, as well as photographs of Civil War soldiers, are displayed in the permanent exhibition American Origins, 1600-1900. Twentieth Century Americans spotlights the 20th century's cultural, scientific and political leaders, while The Struggle for Justice recognizes crusaders for civil rights.
Lincoln's Contemporaries showcases Matthew Brady's portraits of twenty notables—from showman P.T. Barnum and inventor Samuel Morse to musician Teresa Carreño and clergyman Henry Ward Beecher—who reflect the diversity of American intellectual and cultural life during Lincoln's presidency. The museum is also committed to showcasing contemporary Americans and the art of portraiture.
The National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum share a historic building along with the Lunder Conservation Center, which offers behind-the-scenes views of collection care, and the Kogod Courtyard, which has a café and free Wi-Fi internet access. The museums' programs are collectively known as the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture.
Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.