National Portrait Gallery
8th and G Streets, NW
In 1962, Congress established the National Portrait Gallery with the mandate to collect portraits of individuals who had significantly contributed to this country’s history, development, or culture. Yet the present has always shaped the museum’s assessment of who should be recognized. When the Portrait Gallery first opened, 17 percent of the objects in our collection were made by or portrayed women; today, that number has doubled. The recently acquired artworks displayed here signal the museum’s ongoing commitment to highlighting women’s achievements. Although we have made progress toward more equitable representation, there is still work to be done.
Over the past six decades, the Portrait Gallery has broadened the parameters of who it represents—and how. In 2001, we began collecting portraits of living subjects, and in 2008, we expanded our definition of portraiture to include video and film.
From the studio to the synagogue, the darkroom to the courtroom, the people represented by these portraits have transformed the way we see, hear, feel, and understand the world. Without these additions to our permanent collection, what histories would be missing?