Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery To Reopen Friday, Sept. 18, With New Exhibitions and Newly Acquired Works on View

September 14, 2020
News Release

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Lorraine Hansbury in front of large photo of herself

Copyright: David Attie

New Exhibitions

Her Story: A Century of Women Writers

Sept. 18–Jan. 18, 2021

First Floor

As the nation commemorates the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, “Her Story: A Century of Women Writers” celebrates some of the country’s most influential authors. This permanent collection exhibition features 24 portraits of Margaret Wise Brown, Sandra Cisneros, Lorraine Hansberry, Toni Morrison, Anne Sexton, Susan Sontag, Anne Tyler, Alice Walker and many others. Whether using their life experiences or powers of imagination, each of these writers has made a significant contribution to American literature. Several have won Pulitzer Prizes, Nobel Prizes or both, and their personal stories—in addition to those they have written—offer insight and inspiration. This exhibition is part of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, “Because of Her Story.” “Her Story: A Century of Women Writers” is curated by Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, senior historian and director of research, publications and scholarly programs. A virtual press conversation with the curator will take place Thursday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. via Zoom. To register, contact

Visionary: The Cumming Family Collection

Sept. 18–Jan. 24, 2021(Part I)

Dec. 4–Jan. 24, 2021 (Part II)

Second Floor

“Visionary: The Cumming Family Collection” celebrates a major acquisition of 22 contemporary portraits recently gifted or promised to the Portrait Gallery by Ian and Annette Cumming. Beginning in 1995, the Cummings worked with their friend D. Dodge Thompson to commission or acquire over two dozen portraits of important national and global leaders. Installed in two parts, the first part of the exhibition will feature a corridor of hyper-realist paintings by artist Robert McCurdy. Included will be likenesses of Muhammad Ali, Neil Armstrong, Warren Buffett and Toni Morrison and the premiere of a promised portrait of Jane Goodall. Part two, opening Dec. 4, will include additional portraits by American artists Jack Beal, Chuck Close and Nelson Shanks. This exhibition is curated by Chief Curator Emerita Brandon Brame Fortune and will be accompanied by a limited-edition publication.

Closing Soon

Portraits of the World: Denmark

On view through Oct. 12

Second Floor

“Portraits of the World: Denmark” features the painting “Kunstdommere” (Art Judges) by Michael Ancher (1849–1927), on loan from the Museum of National History in Hillerød, Denmark. The monumental group portrait pays tribute to a tightly knit artists’ community in northern Denmark, which served as the incubator for the Modern Breakthrough in Danish painting. A complementary display of American portraits highlights the proliferation of artists’ communities in New York City during the first half of the 20th century, which likewise accelerated the development of modern art in the United States. This exhibition is the third iteration in the museum’s “Portraits of the World” series, which previously focused on spotlight works from Switzerland (2017–18) and Korea (2018–19). This exhibition is curated by Curator of Prints and Drawings Robyn Asleson.

Permanent Collection Galleries

America’s Presidents


Second Floor

This exhibition showcases the nation’s only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House and lies at the heart of the Portrait Gallery’s mission to tell the American story through the individuals who have shaped it. Discover portraits of past U.S. Presidents in a variety of media, from oil paintings and sculptures to prints and photographs. A virtual audio tour of “America’s Presidents” is available in English and Spanish on the museum’s free and easy-to-download SmARTify app. Visitors can also explore an online adaptation of this exhibition and additional research tools through the museum’s dedicated “America’s Presidents” website.

The Struggle for Justice


Second Floor

“The Struggle for Justice” showcases contemporary leaders who have fought for civil rights and greater inclusiveness. This permanent gallery features likenesses of sitters such as Marian Anderson, George Washington Carver, César Chávez, Albert Einstein, Dolores Huerta, Thurgood Marshall and Rosa Parks. A newly acquired painting of civil rights activist and former Congressman John Lewis will also be on view for the first time. This portrait by Michael Shane Neal celebrates Lewis’s legacy as a co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a maker of “good trouble,” who worked tirelessly throughout his life towards equality and non-violent social change.

Note to editors: The National Portrait Gallery will be open Wednesdays through Sundays 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m. beginning Sept. 18 at Eighth and G streets N.W. Refer to for the latest visitor safety guidelines pertaining to COVID-19, including a new requirement for free timed-entry passes for all ages. Note that that the museum has an open photography policy for hand-held cameras. For film crews, contact the Portrait Gallery’s press office to arrange access and escorts for all crews wishing to film in the galleries. 

Select galleries on the Portrait Gallery’s first floor will remain closed to the public for renovations until further notice. For the latest on which galleries will be open, visit before your visit. Additional exhibition information is available via the museum’s online press room:

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.

The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and G streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at, Facebook, Instagram. Twitter and YouTube.


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