Special Programs

All events and programs are held virtually, due to COVID-19. The National Portrait Gallery remains temporarily closed at this time.

Upcoming programs:

book Jacket for Rodham

Art AfterWords: A Book Discussion   

Tuesday, May 11, 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 power, gender and collective memory. Join us as we analyze portraits from the exhibition “Every Eye Is Upon Me: First Ladies of the United States” and discuss the related book “Rodham” by Curtis Sittenfeld. 

Participants are encouraged to visit the exhibition before the event. DCPL cardholders can access “Rodham” here.

book jacket featuring a female slave and a small child

Enduring Images: Enslaved People and Photography in the Antebellum South 

Tuesday, May 11, 5 p.m.
Online via Zoom 
Closed captioning provided
Presented by Matthew Fox-Amato, Assistant Professor of History, University of Idaho 

From the 1840s to the end of the Civil War, some enslaved people paid to have their photographs taken and then used these portraits to shape their identities and social ties. Slave narratives, newspapers and studio records reveal that some enslaved individuals bought images from local photographers, stowed images of sold family members in their cabins and carried images of family on their persons. Considering enslaved people as active agents of early photography, this talk examines what their photographic practices meant, especially in relation to the violent disruptions of the domestic slave trade. It also reflects upon possibilities for writing the history of portraiture when the relevant images are not available. 

Free—Registration required

Rhea L. Combs, Curator of Film and Photography at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, will moderate the Q & A.

Asian American woman in a yellow dress with a fan behind her head

In Dialogue: Smithsonian Objects and Social Justice

Thursday, May 13, 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. Why is it important to have agency in how we are portrayed?  Together with our co-hosts from the Freer and Sackler, Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art, we will explore this key question about representation in relationship to a 1937 photograph of actress Anna May Wong and an early 21st century photo-performance by Pushpamala N.

Free—Registration required