National Portrait Gallery Celebrates First Season of New Podcast, 'Portraits'

September 12, 2019
News Release

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photo of Kim Sajet and logo for "Portraits" podcast

Credit: Kim Sajet, Director of the National Portrait Gallery and host of “Portraits.”

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery celebrates the first season of “Portraits,” a new podcast in which art, biography, history and identity intersect. The Portrait Gallery’s director and host Kim Sajet chats with artists, historians and thought leaders about the big and small ways that portraits shape the world. The first season features the stories of remarkable women through the lens of portraiture. Episodes are available at and through Apple Podcasts, Google Play, PRX, Radio Public, Spotify and Stitcher.

 “The National Portrait Gallery is a destination—a cultural hub located in a historic landmark in the nation’s capital, but the community and identity of the museum extends far beyond its walls,” Sajet said. “Our new podcast gives us a way to share the stories of remarkable individuals with everyone across the country.”

Launched June 18, the first season delves deeper into the stories behind the museum’s portraits of historical and contemporary women. Episodes have featured Jill Lepore, a professor of history at Harvard University and a staff writer for The New Yorker, on securing a place in history for those who have been footnoted or even erased from the narrative of American history; Sheryll Cashin, a professor of law at Georgetown University, on the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia and the eventual lifting of the ban against interracial marriage; and bestselling illustrator Wendy MacNaughton on her recent cartoon about visitor responses to the museum’s Obama portraits. In addition, New York-based artist Hope Gangloff and Julie Packard, the executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and leading ocean conservationist, discuss the process of creating Packard’s commissioned portrait for the museum, while author and associate curator at the National Museum of the American Indian Paul Chaat Smith reflects on what people know (and think they know) about Pocahontas.

On Sept. 18, Sajet will be a guest on the Smithsonian’s “Sidedoor,” a podcast that tells surprising stories of art, history, science, and culture from the Smithsonian and beyond. Kim will provide a behind-the-scenes view of the latest “Portraits” podcast episode featuring journalist and author Cokie Roberts on four portraits of trailblazing First Ladies. “Sidedoor” can be heard at

With its focus on women, the inaugural season of “Portraits” complements the eight exhibitions that the Portrait Gallery has presented in 2019–2020 as part of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, “Because of Her Story.” Episodes are scheduled through Nov. 5. Those currently available for download are:

  • Episode 1 (June 18): “Lopsided” with Jill Lepore
  • Episode 2 (July 2): “Loving” with Sheryll Cashin
  • Episode 3 (July 16): “On the Beat” with Wendy MacNaughton
  • Episode 4 (July 30): “Underwater” with Julie Packard and Hope Gangloff
  • Episode 5 (Aug. 13): “Pondering Pocahontas” with Paul Chaat Smith
  • Episode 6 (Aug. 27): “Firsts” with Cokie Roberts
  • Episode 7 (Sept. 10): “Remembering Marian Anderson” with Leslie Ureña

Upcoming guests include the Portrait Gallery’s Senior Curator of Photographs Ann Shumard, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch and the surprise winner of the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

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 F 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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