Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Announces Virtual Programs for December 2021; January and February 2022

By Editorial Team on December 6, 2021
Credit: “Sitting Bull” (detail) by Rommler & Jonas Lithography Company (after Rudolf Cronau), hand-colored collotype, 1885. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution (left). “The Botanist” by Hung Liu, oil on canvas, 2013. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; gift of Lorrie and Richard Greene and Accessions Committee Fund purchase. © Hung Liu (center). “George Washington Carver” by Betsy Graves Reyneau, oil on canvas, 1942. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the George Washington Carver Memorial Committee to the Smithsonian Institution, 1944. © Peter Edward Fayard (right).

December

In Dialogue: Smithsonian Objects and Social Justice

Thursday, Dec. 9, 5 p.m.

Online via Zoom

Heighten your civic awareness through conversations about art, history and material culture. Each month, educators from the National Portrait Gallery will partner with colleagues from across the Smithsonian to discuss how historical objects from their respective collections speak to today’s social justice issues. Why does accurate representation matter? Together with the National Museum of the American Indian, we will explore this key question in relationship to an 1885 print of Sitting Bull and an 1890 photograph of Princess Maria Ludwiga Theresia of Bavaria photographing Wild West performers. Free—Registration required.

Wind Down Wednesday: A Holiday Affair 

Wednesday, Dec. 15, 5 p.m.

Instagram Live @smithsonianNPG

The holiday season often means spending time in the kitchen. Whether you cook for a crowd as an expression of love or alone as a form of self-care, you’ll discover cocktail and appetizer recipes to suit your celebration style. Want more culinary inspiration? We’ll also explore the sights, sounds and smells evoked by our portrait of legendary freedom fighter Leah Chase, who fed a revolution and proved that making good food is an act of resistance as well as love.

January

José María Mora, Napoleon Sarony and the Migrant Surround in American Portrait Photography

Tuesday, Jan. 25, 5 p.m.

Closed captioning provided.

Presented by Erin Pauwels, assistant professor of art history at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University. Leslie Ureña, curator of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, will moderate the Q & A.

This presentation considers how the spaces of photographic portrait studios were constructed to facilitate the performance of diverse American identities during the late nineteenth century. José María Mora, a Cuban-born U.S. photographer, and his mentor Napoleon Sarony, a native French speaker born in Quebec, rose to prominence during the Gilded Age for staging lush portrait tableaus that deployed hand-painted backdrops and richly theatrical studio effects. Conventionally, the vivid artifice of their work has been connected to the commercial excesses of the period. Deeper consideration both photographers’ immigrant status, however, helps illuminate how publicly circulated portraiture participated in the renegotiation of a national types at an historical moment when more than 12 million new arrivals to the United States were reinventing and revitalizing what it meant to be American.

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the recent passing of Daniel B. Greenberg, whose generosity and that of his wife, Susan, makes the Greenberg Steinhauser Forum in American Portraiture possible. The program is hosted by PORTAL, the Portrait Gallery’s Scholarly Center.

Free—Registration required.

February

Edmonia Lewis and Wendell Phillips: Kate Clarke Lemay in Conversation with Kirsten Pai Buick and Hélène Quainquin

Tuesday, Feb. 8, 5 p.m.

Closed captioning provided.

Kate Clarke Lemay, interim director of PORTAL and acting senior historian at the National Portrait Gallery, will moderate a conversation between Hélène Quanquin, professor of American Studies, University of Lille (France) and Kirsten Pai Buick, professor of art history; associate dean of equity and excellence for the College of Fine Arts; and inaugural chair of Africana studies, University of New Mexico.

Join us for a conversation about the anti-slavery movement centered on the biographies and portraits of Wendell Phillips and Edmonia Lewis. Known for her medallion busts, sculptor Edmonia Lewis often portrayed abolitionists, African Americans and Native Americans, in addition to biblical and mythological figures. Early in her career, Lewis created a medallion bust of Wendell Phillips, an abolitionist who also advocated for temperance, women’s rights, Native Americans’ rights and labor rights. Through his conversational speaking style, Phillips became a key orator for the abolitionist movement.

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the recent passing of Daniel B. Greenberg, whose generosity and that of his wife, Susan, makes the Greenberg Steinhauser Forum in American Portraiture possible. The program is hosted by PORTAL, the Portrait Gallery’s Scholarly Center.

Free—Registration required.

Art AfterWords: A Book Discussion 

Tuesdays, Feb. 8, 2022, 5:30–7 p.m.

Online via Zoom

The National Portrait Gallery and the DC Public Library would like to invite you to a virtual conversation about love, second chances, and the power of a great torch song. Join us as we analyze a portrait of Ella Fitzgerald and discuss the related book “Seven Days in June” by Tia Williams. Participants will be encouraged to share their favorite romance novels and love songs during the event.  DCPL Cardholders can access “Seven Days in June” here.

Free—Registration required.

The Portrait Gallery strives to provide programs that are accessible to all visitors. For questions, or to request accommodations such as an ASL interpreter or captioning, please email NPGAccess@si.edu.

In Dialogue: Smithsonian Objects and Social Justice

Thursday, Feb. 10, 5 p.m.

Online via Zoom

Heighten your civic awareness through conversations about art, history and material culture. Each month, educators from the National Portrait Gallery will partner with colleagues from across the Smithsonian to discuss how historical objects from their respective collections speak to today’s social justice issues. How does artwork build empathy and open the possibilities for connecting people near and far? Together with our co-hosts from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, we will explore this key question in relationship to Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s 1992 print Untitled (for Jeff) and Hung Liu’s 2013 painting The Botanist.

Free—Registration required.

Wind Down Wednesday: Heart and Soul

Wednesday, Feb. 16, 5 p.m.

Instagram Live @smithsonianNPG

Make a special Valentine cocktail with a guest mixologist while we celebrate and reflect on the power of love. We will explore Anthony Barboza’s portrait of actor-writers Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Their lovefest embraced mutual respect, admiration, Black expression and just plain love. Join us for a conversation about how the couple balanced their humanitarianism and activist spirit with the sweetness of having heart and finding contentment. Yes, love is in the air!

Ongoing Programs: December–February 

Writing Hour

Select Tuesdays, 5 p.m.

Online via Zoom

Join us weekly for a virtual creative writing hour. We’ve set up an online space where writers can create, connect and draw inspiration from the Portrait Gallery’s collection.

Free—Registration required.

Young Portrait Explorers

Wednesdays, 11-11:30 a.m. & 3-3:30 p.m.

Online via Zoom

  • Dec.15: Roger Shimomura
  • Jan. 5: Selena
  • Jan.19: Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Feb. 2: Faith Ringgold
  • Feb. 9: Michelle Obama
  • Feb. 16: Barack Obama
  • Feb. 23: George Washington Carver

Join our virtual workshop for children ages 3-6 and their adult companions as we learn about art, history and more! Explore with Portrait Gallery educators in a 30-minute activity that incorporates close looking at portraiture, movement and artmaking. Free—Registration required.

Drawn to Figures LIVE

Select Thursdays, 11 a.m.

Online via Zoom

  • Dec. 16: How to Draw the Nose
  • Jan. 6: How to Draw the Mouth
  • Feb. 3: Shading your Portraits
  • Feb. 17: How to Draw Hair

Discover your inner artist in this online workshop on sketching the human body. Artist Jill Galloway will highlight the techniques and challenges of figure drawing while providing guided instruction and helpful tips. Open to all skill levels, ages 13 and up. Free—Registration required.

Online Docent Tours

Group Tours

By reservation

Online via Zoom

The National Portrait Gallery offers docent-led group tours online for adults interested in exploring the museum remotely. The following tours will be available by registration: America’s Presidents, Highlights of the National Portrait Gallery, Docent’s Choice and Special Exhibitions. Reservations must be made three weeks in advance of the desired tour date. To receive a tour request form, e-mail NPGAdultTours@si.edu or click here. All tours are subject to availability; last-minute cancellations may occur.