National Portrait Gallery offers free online exhibits during COVID-19

Audio tours, digital exhibits and children’s story times are all available for free through the gallery’s website.

barack and Michele obama portraits from national gallery
Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Institute

“As the nation’s only museum dedicated to American portraiture, we always aim to meet our visitors where they are,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery in a March 18 press release. “Today, that happens to be online.”

As we practice social distancing and have watched all of the Smithsonian institutions go dark over the past week, the National Portrait Gallery is offering unique online experiences where visitors can access its exhibits, artwork and interactions with staff from home. 

Starting today, visitors can access online exhibits thanks to the gallery’s partnership with Google Arts & Culture. Three of the exhibits are honoring Women’s History Month, including One Life: Dolores Huerta, First Ladies and Votes for Women. Others include Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today, and ASL-based exhibits of past and present such as One Life: Marian Anderson.

Also on a dedicated website page, visitors can get a complete look at The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today, and vote for their favorite work in the exhibit, in which a winner will be named on after Friday, April 24 for a “People’s Choice Award.” 

For parents with young children, story times will now be held every Wednesday at 11 a.m., geared toward children ages 3 and older. Visitors can watch them on social media platforms, and parents and teachers can download accompanying lesson plans from the website. 

Lastly, visitors are encouraged to check out more than 1,000 pieces of artwork on display at the National Portrait Gallery through the free app, SMARTIFY. There are audio tours, photos and more, including the ever-popular America’s Presidents exhibit. 

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