National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC

4.7
Part of the Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery displays portraits of famous Americans. The gallery began with Charles Willson Peale's private collection of portraits, formerly called American Pantheon or Peale's Collection of Portraits of American Patriots. Since the gallery's inception in the 1960s, the collection has grown exponentially with acquisitions from around the world and a triennial portrait competition. Be sure to visit the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard, an architectural marvel with a glass roof. Make National Portrait Gallery a part of your Washington DC vacation plans using our Washington DC trip itinerary planner .
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National Portrait Gallery Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
2,621 reviews
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4.7
TripAdvisor
  • The National Portrait Gallery is a great place to learn about the people behind our nation's history. If you are able to take a tour - do so as it is informative. The special exhibits are always incre...  more »
  • The map was confusing to me but I managed to find things. Especially enjoyed the area devoted to our presidents. Nice review of history. Went on a cold Sunday thinking it opened at 11. Sunday opening ...  more »
  • I could not love this museum more! The Kogod Courtyard is one of DC’s less appreciated architectural treasures, and a magical place to let kids explore and run free, especially during inclement weathe...  more »
Google
  • Free general admission! This is an amazing art museum that is open longer than the other free museums in Washington. Amazing portraits, definitely would recommend to spend some time with the portraits of the presidents. Museum is split in half so you kinda have to pay attention because you switch easily between the portrait gallery and the normal art gallery. Helpful staff, great exhibition about soldiers when we went.
  • It’s actually two museums in one! The National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Museum of Art are opposite directions of the main lobby. These portraits captured the lives and stories of very interesting and important people. Definitely a different perspective into history through individuals. “Accidentally” wandered into the art museum section. Both are highly recommended!
  • Spent half the day exploring this museum and it wasn't nearly enough time! I feel like we barely covered half of the place. Must-sees include the gallery with all the presidents, in order, with the official President Obama portrait arriving in early 2018 (one reason for me to come back!) and currently, the small Sylvia Plath exhibition with letters than she penned about her first electric meeting with Ted Hughes, poems she wrote days before she committed suicide, and poetry she wrote as a young child. Truly fascinating to delve into the mind of one of the world's greatest poets, and it is a true shame she couldn't win the battle against her own demons. A great place to learn American history!
  • Great! Well curated and fun place to spend some time. Good place to sit and relax it have a snack in the covered plaza area. The collections are fantastic... From traditional to modern. Also, sometimes has some really amazing special exhibits. And, best of all like all Smithsonian museums, it's free!
  • Edit; been here many times now. Always a pleasure. Wandered around this museum for a couple of hours one lunch time. Very nice, I was surprised and delighted it had a modern art exhibit on the top floor. A nice indoor/outdoor café area, the roof of which was designed by Norman Foster who did the British Museum in London. Because this place isn't on the Mall it is a bit quieter than the other museums here in DC. Another fantastic DC museum.

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Where to stay in Washington DC

Most visitors to Washington, D.C., end up in the East End, the old downtown district containing most of the city's major cultural attractions. For a more authentic Washingtonian experience, consider staying at a smaller hotel just a little north or east of this busy area. Neighborhoods outside downtown offer less expensive accommodations and affordable street parking, as well as opportunities to meet more locals and fewer tourists. Alternatively, try a hotel in Georgetown, packed with high-end shops and Colonial architecture.
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