The National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum share space in a National Historic Landmark building in Washington DC

The National Portrait Gallery is the only museum of its kind in the United States to reflect the connection between American history, biography and art. It tells the diverse story of America through its individuals. The museum holds the nations only complete collection of Presidential portraits outside of the White House. The exhibition, America's Presidents includes the “Lansdowne” portrait of George Washington, and continues through George W. Bush. The museum hosts many more permanent exhibitions that include portraits of notable Americans from Pocahontas to LL Cool J. The museum is a vibrant engaging place that includes a rigorous schedule of temporary exhibitions (see the museum's site for updated information) and permanent shows that together trace the history of the United States through people who have created and are creating it.

The building that houses the museums has dramatic architectural features, including skylights, a curving double staircase, porticos and vaulted galleries illuminated by natural light. The museums, located on a two-city block site between Seventh and Ninth streets and between F and G streets N.W., are the cultural centerpiece of a revitalized downtown Washington. The two museums are known collectively as the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture.


The Lunder Conservation Center provides a new ways to experience conservation of American art and portraiture.

  • Lunder Conservation Center—the first art conservation facility in the United States that allows the public permanent behind-the-scenes views of the museums’ preservation work. Conservation staff from both museums are visible to the public through floor-to-ceiling glass walls.



On View

The National Portrait Gallery permanent exhibitions include an the expanded exhibition, “America’s Presidents” as well as “America Origins, 1600-1900,” and “20th Century Americans” features famous sports figures and entertainers on the mezannines of the 3rd floor. Just beyond "America's Presidents," the museum hosts a show about civil rights. Titled, "The Struggle For Justice," this exhibition showcases major cultural and political figures—from key 19th-century historical figures to contemporary leaders—who struggled to achieve civil rights for disenfranchised or marginalized groups.

The museum's current temporary exhibitions are: One Life: Amelia Earhart, 1812: A Nation Emerges, A Will of Their Own: Judith Sargent Murray and Women of Achievement in the Early Republic, The Confederate Sketches of Adalbert Volck, Mathew Brady's Photographs of Union Generals, In Vibrant Color: Vintage Celebrity Portraits from the Harry Warnecke Studio, Juliette Gordon Low and the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts, and Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter.  


About the National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the history of America through the individuals who have shaped its culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.


The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Website: Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000.



The museums are conveniently located above the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metrorail station (Red, Yellow and Green lines). There are several parking lots and garages near the museums, along with limited on-street parking at meters.


Museum Hours

11:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m. daily
Closed December 25






Courtyard Cafe
Open daily 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.