2019 American Portrait Gala

Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Hosts a Star-Studded Event

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery shined with more than 700 attendees at its 2019 American Portrait Gala on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. The red carpet event was attended by national cultural icons, celebrities and artists from across the country, and raised more than $2 million in support of the museum’s endowment for exhibitions. The event honored Frances Arnold, scientist, engineer and Nobel Laureate; Jeffrey P. Bezos, tech entrepreneur and philanthropist; Earth, Wind & Fire (Maurice White [posthumously], Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson), award-winning American band; Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer, lyricist and actor; Indra Nooyi, business  executive; and Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue, U.S. artistic director and global content advisor of Condé Nast.

Following the red carpet arrivals, guests enjoyed a private viewing of the honorees’ portraits by Jon R. Friedman (Nooyi), Katy Grannan (Arnold), Robert McCurdy (Bezos), Annie Leibovitz (Wintour), Mark Seliger (Miranda) and Bruce W. Talamon (Earth, Wind & Fire). Attendees then mingled over cocktails in the museum’s Great Hall, where President Abraham Lincoln held his second inaugural ball. The dinner featured a dynamic program emceed by journalist and television personality Gayle King, with some of the speakers dressed in designs by the evening’s Honorary Fashion Designer Prabal Gurung.

Presentations of the “Portrait of a Nation Prize” included Michelle Obama, former First Lady, to Miranda; France Córdova, astrophysicist and director of the National Science Foundation, to Arnold; James Corden, actor, comedian and television host of The Late Late Show, to Wintour; Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, to Nooyi; Clive Davis, Grammy Award-winning music industry executive and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to Earth, Wind & Fire; and Preston Bezos, son, to his father. Members of the Portrait Gallery’s Teen Museum Council also participated in the program. The night culminated with guests dancing to a live musical performance by Earth, Wind & Fire, that included the band’s iconic hit, “September.”

The American Portrait Gala’s 2019 national chairs were Randi Charno Levine and Jeffrey Levine and Joseph P. Ujobai and Eduardo Ardiles, and the Washington, D.C. chairs were Kristin and John Cecchi and Susanna and Jack Quinn. Facebook was the lead sponsor. Co-chairs of the event included Accenture, Robert and Arlene Kogod, Michael and Catherine Podell, and David M. Rubenstein. Founding chairs are Wayne and Catherine Reynolds. The Vice Chairs were Jeffrey P. Bezos, JP Morgan, Indra Nooyi, Tom L. Pegues and Donald Capoccia, Jay and Tracy Snyder, Patty Stonesifer and Jon and Sandra Willen.