Special Programs

All events and programs are held virtually, due to COVID-19. 

Upcoming programs:

ckolorful death mask and flowers for the holiday

Día de los Muertos at the National Portrait Gallery

Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 1 & 2 | 6:30­–8:30 pm

Celebrate el Día de los Muertos with an outdoor festival of music and art at the National Portrait Gallery. Join us in creating a community altar on the museum’s steps while discovering more about the history and mythology behind el Día de los Muertos. Then, at dusk, artists MasPaz and Guache will project a two-hour live digital painting, video and sound performance onto the G Street and 9th Street façades of the museum’s building to honor D.C.’s Latinx community.


woman sitting amidst artful trees

In Dialogue: Smithsonian Objects and Social Justice

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 5 p.m.
Online via Zoom

Heighten your civic awareness through conversations about art, history and material culture. Each month, educators from the National Portrait Gallery will partner with colleagues from across the Smithsonian to discuss how historical objects from their respective collections speak to today’s social justice issues.

How can portraits reveal complex histories? Together with our co-hosts from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, we will explore multiple perspectives on national identity and belonging through portraits of Ruth Asawa and Hung Liu and a painting by Roger Shimomura.

Free—Registration required.


Oak Flat book cover

Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West with author Lauren Redniss

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 5 p.m. 
Online via Zoom 
Closed captioning provided 

Presented by Lauren Redniss, artist, author, MacArthur fellow, and associate professor at the Parsons School of Design. Sharyl Pahe-Short, visitor services manager at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, will moderate the Q & A. 

Oak Flat, an oasis in the Arizona desert, is a holy place, an ancient burial ground and a religious site where Apache girls celebrate the coming-of-age ritual known as the Sunrise Ceremony. In 1995, the largest known, untapped copper reserve in North America was discovered nearby. A decade later, the U.S. Congress passed a law transferring the area to an international conglomerate, whose planned copper mine will wipe Oak Flat off the map—sending its natural springs, petroglyph-covered rocks, and old-growth trees tumbling into a void.  

In this presentation, Lauren Redniss will explore the ongoing Oak Flat controversy and examine its place in the history of Indigenous land expropriation in the United States. Additionally, she will discuss her approach to “visual nonfiction,” the role of portraiture in her work and the possibilities of unconventional storytelling forms. 

This program is part of the Greenberg Steinhauser Forum in American Portraiture Conversation Series sponsored by Dan Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser and is hosted by PORTAL, the Portrait Gallery’s Scholarly Center. 

Free—Registration required.


book jacket for Refugees

Art AfterWords: A Book Discussion

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 5:30­–7 p.m.
Online via Zoom

The National Portrait Gallery and the DC Public Library would like to invite you to a virtual conversation about culture, displacement and acceptance. Join us as we analyze the portrait “Resident Alien” by Hung Liu and discuss the book “The Refugees” by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Participants are encouraged to visit the exhibition “Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands.”