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School and Teacher Programs / Classroom Resources


Teacher Programs for 2013-2014:

The National Portrait Gallery provides professional development workshops throughout the academic year to teachers. Integrating portraiture into the classroom can provide exciting opportunities to connect students with history, biography, visual art, and many other subjects. Some workshops focus on specific exhibition themes, while others take a broader look at the museum’s collection. 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 take place in the National Portrait Gallery’s Education Center, Room E151, in the “American Origins” exhibition on the first floor.

“Learning to Look with the National Portrait Gallery” Summer Teacher Institute

Benjamin Franklin

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. The Summer Teacher Institute will take a broad look at the Portrait Gallery’s collection. During the institute, the museum’s curators and historians will provide in-gallery content lectures, introducing the collection. Utilizing an interactive approach, NPG educators will model a variety of “learning to look” strategies—unique ways to hook and engage students when they look closely at portraits. Participants will learn how to “read” portraiture and use the art as a springboard into a more in-depth discussion about biography and history. Teachers in grades kindergarten–12 may apply as individuals or as part of a team. Priority will be given to social studies, English/language arts, and visual arts teachers.

The institute will be held twice during summer 2014:

July 7–9 and July 28–30

Institute participants will:
  • Gain expertise from museum educators, curators, and historians through gallery talks, discussions, and hands-on activities
  • Learn to use portraiture in the classroom, identifying and analyzing key components of a portrait and relating visual elements to relevant historical context and significance
  • Make interdisciplinary connections among portraiture, social studies, and English/language arts
  • Develop and share lesson ideas with colleagues
To ensure participation, a nonrefundable program fee of $100 per person is due upon acceptance into the teacher institute. Participants are responsible for travel and lodging costs. Each participant will receive a stipend of $200 at the conclusion of the workshop.

Please use this printable application:
Learning to Look Teacher Institute Application

Please direct queries to
or 202-633-8503.

Application deadline is April 25, 2014.

Teaching Science Through Art and Invention
Workshop presented with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation

Saturday, January 25, 2014
9:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

Benjamin FranklinHave you considered integrating art into your science lessons, but don’t know how? Led by educators from the National Portrait Gallery and the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, this workshop will offer strategies for teaching science through invention, art, social studies, and language arts. The painting Men of Progress will introduce inventors of the past, and be used as a springboard into examining the changing face of the inventor throughout American history. Participants will then explore related hands-on activities and brainstorm about classroom applications.

Embracing the Common Core with Art
Workshop presented with the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Saturday, February 22, 2014
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

George Washington CarverHave you considered using art and portraiture as text in the classroom to teach the Common Core? Art museums are poised to support classroom educators as you adapt to the new integrated approach. Join museum educators from the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum to explore the connections among social studies, English language arts, and visual arts. In this workshop, participants will read objects as text-determining the main idea, identifying the purpose, and revealing the artist's point of view.

Using Art and Portraiture to Teach Twenty-First Century Literacies
Workshop presented with the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Saturday, March 22, 2014
9:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m

George WashingtonHow do we define literacy in the twenty-first century? In this session, participants will use art and portraiture to examine various forms of literacy and discuss how to encourage their development in the classroom. Educators from the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum will use objects in their collections to introduce the following types of literacy: Read, Speak, Listen, Write, Perform, and Share. Participants will then work in groups to brainstorm classroom applications.

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Phone: (202) 633-8500
FAX: (202) 633-8521
Mailing Address:
Office of Education
National Portrait Gallery
P.O. Box 37012
Washington, D.C. 20013-0712



Please use the printable application for the Summer Teacher Institute, and be sure to include all required information. The application should be emailed to the address above.

 Application (pdf)



Please use the printable registration for all teacher workshops, and be sure to include all required information. The application should be emailed to the address above.

 Registration (pdf)


In addition to our scheduled professional development workshops, we are able to accommodate groups for customized workshops or in-service days. Please call or email; we will work with you to develop a program appropriate for your group.



Take a look at past issues
of this NPG newsletter for
ideas on how to integrate portraiture into the classroom.

Fall 2013
Winter 2013
Fall 2012
Spring 2012
Fall 2011
Spring 2011
Fall 2010
Spring 2010
Fall 2009
Winter 2009
Fall 2008
Spring 2008
Fall 2007
Fall 2005
Spring 2005
Winter 2004-05
Fall 2004