Gary and Amy Perlin

America's Stories in Portraits

In 2023, Gary and Amy Perlin made the inaugural gift to the National Portrait Gallery’s $15-million campaign to bolster the museum’s iconic America’s Presidents exhibition. The couple are lifelong philanthropists whose generosity is driven by the importance of highlighting the rich and complex history of the United States.

The Perlins have been committed donors to the National Portrait Gallery for more than a decade. Their $1 million gift to America’s Presidents will support acquisitions, conservation, exhibition maintenance, scholarship and more, ensuring that the museum can continue to make presidential history dynamic, engaging and accessible for visitors of all ages.

Gary and Amy Perlin at the National Portrait Gallery
Gary and Amy Perlin at a National Portrait Gallery dinner celebrating the arrival of a painting of President Abraham Lincoln by artist W.F.K. Travers. PHOTO Robert Isacson


What drives your philanthropy?
Values drive our philanthropy. We are committed to sharing our blessings and want to be role models for our children and our grandchildren. While we are people of faith, we believe it is our responsibility to repair a world that is too often broken. We want to maximize our impact and believe deeply that the best way to do that is to invest in gifted leaders.

What inspired you to make the inaugural gift to America’s Presidents?
America’s Presidents is what first connected us to the National Portrait Gallery nearly 40 years ago; the portraits inspired our young sons to learn history. Looking forward, we believe it is critical to have dedicated resources to support this treasured presidential collection.

Why is American history important to you and your family?
Our grandparents were immigrants to this country who came to escape religious persecution and give their children opportunities they could barely imagine. As our favorite curator at the National Portrait Gallery says, “We believe in the importance of more history in telling America’s full story, not less.” We want to ensure that Americans are reminded why we must protect and nurture a vision of the American dream that is inclusive and authentic.

Tell me about one of your favorite memories of the Smithsonian.
Our family’s favorite memory is of our young sons joyfully encountering America’s Presidents and feeling as though they knew each of them personally. One day, when our two sons were still in a double stroller, they were expounding on their presidential knowledge as only toddlers can. One of the guards came over to us, marveling at our sons’ ability to recognize each of the presidents by name, by face and even by the order in which they served. We relive that memory now as our seven grandchildren discover the collection for themselves.

Published Winter 2024 in IMPACT Vol. 10. No 3

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