Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Names Bradford Grant as Museum’s New Instagram-Artist-in-Residence

July 16, 2020
News Release

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Casual photo of Bradford Grant

Courtesy Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery has named Howard University architecture professor and sketch artist Bradford Grant as the museum’s first Instagram-artist-in-residence. During his residency, Grant will interpret and depict the museum’s programs, community and spaces through the lens of his sketch work and made-from-life drawings. His sketches will premiere on the museum’s Instagram and social media feeds @smithsoniannpg.

Grant’s residency began in June, when he documented the Portrait Gallery and its neighborhood amid the protests against police brutality. Upon the museum’s reopening, visitors can expect to see Grant working throughout the museum in a socially distanced manner.

“Bradford Grant is a talented member of the D.C. community, with a gifted eye for finding and documenting stories,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “Brad’s work as a sketch artist is rooted in both his training as an architect and in his fascination with the intersection of space, structure, community and culture. We hope his residency will be an opportunity for visitors to experience the museum from new angles as we continue to try to unpack and explore the complexities of American history through biography and portraiture.”  

“It’s an honor to join the National Portrait Gallery through this residency and to help tell a piece of the American story through drawing,” Grant said. “On-the-spot life drawings present an opportunity to both engage visitors in a new way and shed light on the often unseen stories unfolding right under our noses every day. I look forward to doing that at the Portrait Gallery and documenting the museum itself as a living entity.”

Grant is the second artist in recent years to take up a residency at the National Portrait Gallery, joining Dana Tai Soon Burgess, the current choreographer-in-residence. Burgess and his namesake dance company, who have been with the museum since 2012, have brought the gallery’s collection to life with compelling performances such as “Tracings” and “A Tribute to Marian Anderson.” Burgess is currently developing unique digital shows adapted for the times, and he and Grant have discussed possible creative collaborations as their residencies overlap.

Grant currently serves as a professor of architecture in the Department of Architecture of the College of Engineering and Architecture at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He has been in leadership roles at Hampton University and Howard University as chairperson, director, associate dean and interim dean.

Throughout his career, Grant has received honors from the Virginia Downtown Development Association, the American Institute of Architects and the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. A registered architect himself, Grant has focused much of his career studying and teaching community design, contemplative practices through drawing in design education and cultural factors in architecture.

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery remains temporarily closed to the public. The museum continues to offer a robust collection of online and digital programs and exhibitions for visitors to enjoy from home, accessible at

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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