Senior Historian David C. Ward interprets Gilbert Stuart's Lansdowne portrait of George Washington.

Girl Scouts view Frederick Douglass

Alexander Gardner's "cracked plate" photo of Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

$25.8 Million raised

National Portrait Gallery

Telling America’s Story: From Poets to Presidents

The National Portrait Gallery tells America’s story through the people who have shaped our culture: poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists. Through the visual and performing arts and new media, the museum enhances visitors’ connections with exceptional Americans who lead, teach and inspire.

A large group of Smithsonian Campaign donors, led by the Perlin Family Foundation and Philip and Elizabeth Ryan, made contributions to a major renovation of America’s Presidents, the museum’s permanent exhibition of presidential portraits. The transformed hall, which reopened in September 2017, provides visitors with new ways to understand the nation’s 44 past leaders using digital technologies and bilingual (Spanish/English) interpretation, among other enhancements. The renovation also included conservation of Gilbert Stuart’s iconic George Washington (Lansdowne Portrait), with support from Bank of America.

A $1 million gift from the Joseph L. and Emily K. Gidwitz Memorial Foundation established an endowment for the acquisition of portrait photography, which comprises more than half of the museum’s collections on public view.

Many campaign gifts supported Out of Many, One—a groundbreaking visual art project to create a giant interactive portrait on the National Mall. Placed along the south side of the Reflecting Pool for one month, the six-acre, dirt-and-sand “facescape” pushed the boundaries of how we define a portrait. The work was viewable from the Washington Monument and from space.

National Portrait Gallery
Leadership Message

Leadership Message

“Out of many, one” is the motto on the Great Seal of America and the underlying motivation of the National Portrait Gallery — a place to focus on the lives of men and women who have made an impact on America and advance a national conversation about citizenship and community.

While a great many theories have been written over the centuries around the concept of “leadership,” at the Portrait Gallery, every person included in the collection provides a unique example of what it means to effect change. Calling attention to people as disparate as Pocahontas, George Washington, Sojourner Truth, Cesar Chavez and Hank Aaron, we make American history personal.

The overarching goal at the National Portrait Gallery is for visitors to recognize that America’s legacy is built upon ordinary people—just like themselves—who achieved extraordinary things. Each of us has the ability to change our world.

As the National Portrait Gallery approaches its 50th anniversary in 2018, we ask for your help to ensure that the legacies of great Americans are not only remembered, but carried forward to the next generation.

By creating dedicated acquisition and exhibition funds, we can collect and exhibit the best portrait art of influential people in their lifetimes; by supporting specialized staff, we continue to interpret the lives of the past for contemporary audiences; and by recognizing that education is at the heart of our mission, you will give us the tools to change the future—one life at a time. 

  • Kim Sajet
    Director, National Portrait Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
Campaign Case

Honoring Our Nation’s History Makers

The National Portrait Gallery tells America’s story through the people who have shaped our culture: poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists. Through the visual and performing arts and new media, we aim to enhance our connection with exceptional Americans who teach and inspire us.

As we look toward our 50th anniversary in 2018, we seek endowments to transform the Portrait Gallery for the next half century and provide financial security for the future.

New Works and Exhibitions
Endowed funds will enable the acquisition and commission of significant new works and the expansion of popular exhibitions, such as the One Life biography series and the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, a reevaluation of portraiture as art form and social commentary. Through the campaign, we will refresh permanent installations, including American Origins, 1600–1900 and America’s Presidents.

Endowment gifts will support the positions of director, senior historian, chief curator and associate director for education. Funding will advance our new strategic plan focusing on history education and the expansion and diversification of our collections to reflect the voices and stories of all Americans.

Expanding education and outreach to teachers, teenagers and diverse audiences is a priority. Portraits engage young people in future careers in the arts, sciences and museum studies fields. We seek to develop a national teacher advisory group, a fellowship program and regular workshops on visual biography across the country. We will redesign our website, digitize collections and introduce audio tours in multiple languages.

National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery

Campaign Priorities

Acquisition and Exhibition Funds

$10 Million

We seek $10 million to exhibit and expand our collection, including portraits of U.S. presidents and first ladies at the end of each administration. Donors can support the purchase of individual portraits or fund an acquisitions endowment with a gift of $50,000. A leadership gift of $5 million will create a dedicated exhibitions endowment to provide critical funding for the museum’s many changing exhibitions each year.

Endowed Positions

$10 Million

Campaign gifts of $10 million for leadership positions will provide stability for the National Portrait Gallery. Gift opportunities include $3 million to endow the chief curator or senior historian and $5 million to endow the museum’s director.

Education, Outreach and Access

$5 Million

We seek $5 million to improve the Portrait Gallery’s education programs, outreach and access. A $100,000 gift will launch a Spanish translation program, $90,000 will fund a year of Gallery Educators for tours ($2.5 million will endow the program) and $400,000 will fund the Teen Ambassadors program or Teacher Institute.

National Portrait Gallery

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada’s Out of Many, One, October 4 to 31, 2014 



Tommie L. Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia

Gallery's Work Inspires Their Generosity

"We support the National Portrait Gallery because it is one of the leading cultural institutions in the country that is providing historical, meaningful and thought provoking art exhibits that are inclusive to everyone. The recent Out of Many, One portrait created on the National Mall caught our interest as an innovative, forward-thinking project that people of different ages, race and background can engage with and appreciate.” Tommie L. Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia

View a video about Out of Many, One. 

Inauguration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1937, Harry Warnecke and Robert F. Cranston, 1937, Color carbro print, National Portrait Gallery



Amy and Gary Perlin

Donors Have Grown With Gallery

“We discovered the National Portrait Gallery nearly thirty years ago, when our sons were very young and delighted in recognizing the portraits of each President. As our boys grew, so too did the Gallery, which now offers a much broader and deeper reflection of our nation’s history, challenges and promise. Our family is committed to helping ensure that current and future generations will continue to learn from, and be inspired by, the images of a diverse range of individuals who collectively represent the American experience.” Amy and Gary Perlin

David Lenz, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, 2009 (detail), National Portrait Gallery, commissioned as part of the First Prize, Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2006.



Virginia Outwin Boochever

Portrait Competition Engages the Nation

Virginia Outwin Boochever had a deep passion for history and the art of portraiture. A docent at the National Portrait Gallery for nearly two decades, she endowed the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition as a way to engage the nation in portraiture as “living history.” Every three years, artists working in every media are invited to submit works that expand portraiture’s traditional boundaries. The winner is awarded a prize and commissioned to create a portrait of a remarkable living American for the museum’s permanent collection. The National Portrait Gallery now seeks endowments to expand the scope, reach and impact of the Portrait Competition as well as commission and acquire other significant new works. “She put her energies behind a national program to celebrate contemporary portraiture because she felt strongly about the need for the National Portrait Gallery to make history come alive through the stories of our people,” says her son, John O. Boochever, a Commissioner Emeritus of the National Portrait Gallery,

Grant and His Generals, Ole Peter Hansen Balling, oil on canvas, 1865. Gift of Mrs. Harry Newton Blue in memory of her husband Harry Newton Blue



Buchi, Kathleen and Kevin

Biography Can Inspire

"Learning about the lives of others can be a means to teach history and also can motivate change. We strongly believe in the national importance of the Portrait Gallery to tell America’s story, inspire patriotism, and inform the next generation through the examples of past leaders, innovators and pioneers. For this reason, we support the National Portrait Gallery and its future through adopting portraits such as this of Grant and His Generals." Kathleen and Kevin Buchi



Supporting Innovation at the Portrait Gallery

A gift from Amy and Gary Perlin to the National Portrait Gallery established the Director's Visionary Fund, providing seed money for Director Kim Sajet to innovate. The fund helped Sajet commission Out of Many, One, a bold portrait on six acres of the National Mall, and translate exhibition guides into Spanish. "Kim has vision," says Gary Perlin. "She celebrates the diversity of American culture and highlights promising, up-and-coming artists."

National Portrait Gallery

Contact Us

National Portrait Gallery Campaign Officers

National Portrait Gallery Commission

  • Mr. Joseph P. Ujobai, Chair
  • Professor Sheryll D. Cashin, Vice-Chair
  • Ms. Cynthia Malkin Blumenthal
  • Ms. Danielle Parris Canfield
  • Mrs. Rose Carter
  • Ms. Anna Chavez
  • Mrs. Liz Dubin
  • Dr. Ella M. Foshay
  • Mr. Glen S. Fukushima
  • Mrs. Alma Gildenhorn
  • Mr. Steven K. Hamp
  • Dr. Jane Kamensky
  • Mrs. Randi Levine
  • Mrs. Amy Meadows
  • Ms. Maria Otero
  • Dr. Dennis O’Toole
  • Mr. Tom Pegues
  • Mrs. Cathy Podell
  • Mr. Eduardo Rabassa
  • Mrs. Elizabeth P. Ryan
  • Ms. Karla Scherer
  • Ms. Alyssa Taubman


Emeritus Commissioners

  • Mr. John Boochever
  • Mr. Dean Smith


Alumni Commissioners

  • The Honorable Anthony C. Beilenson
  • The Honorable Jeannine Smith Clark
  • Dr. Linda Ferber
  • Dr. Jill Lepore
  • Mr. Roger Mudd
  • Mr. Daniel Okrent
  • Mr. Jack H. Watson, Jr.

National Portrait Gallery

Total Goal:
$25.8 Million


$25.8 Million Raised

As of November 30, 2017

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