For Teens

Teen Portrait Competition

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery's “call for entries” for its Teen Portrait Competition is open for 2022. Artists between the ages of 13 and 17 are invited to submit portraits to the juried competition in the medium of photography.

Local teenagers design the competition for their peers under the supervision of the museum’s education department. The competition is designed to introduce teenagers to the concept of representing identity through portraiture.

The finalists are chosen by members of the National Portrait Gallery’s Teen Museum Council, a group of twenty teenagers from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia who engage with the Portrait Gallery’s collections and create programming for their peers.

Two winners are chosen: one in the 13- to 15-year-old category and one in the 16- to 17-year-old category.

Please visit the competition webpage for rules and requirements. 

Questions about the competition can be sent to

Teen Opportunities

Teen Museum Council

The National Portrait Gallery invites you to join its Teen Museum Council. Teen Museum Council is an intensive program for D.C. area teens (grades 9-12) who are interested in developing leadership skills, learning about themselves through portraiture and art, and making the Portrait Gallery an engaging place for teenagers. Teen Museum Council, also known as TMC, is a program for teens by teens to foster more interest in museums and create a community for local teens.

TMC members have the opportunity to work on a variety of activities such as creating teen-centered events, participating in workshops and training sessions with museum professionals, and gain experience at the museum while developing creative and critical thinking skills. Teen Museum Council is a year-long commitment that meets once a week on Wednesdays during the school year.

The Teen Museum Council is on hiatus for the 2021-2022 academic year. Please check back in spring 2022 for updates.

Group photo of the Teen Museum council - a young diverse group of 13 students

For Teens, By Teens

Teen-Led Tours

What does our Teen Museum Council have to say about the Portrait Gallery? Join us for a special tour of our museum as teens share our collection from their perspective. Check our calendar of events (linked) to find out when you can catch the next one!

Two teens in the museum galleries, presenting a video portrait of musician Esparanza Spalding

Teen Night

The annual Paint Ball, created by the Portrait Gallery’s Teen Museum Council, is a teen-only night at the museum with music, food, photo booth, arts and crafts, and many more activities. Teen Museum Council plans this event during the academic year.

Group portrait of teens at the Paint Ball gathering