The Art of Portraiture --FREE Program

by  Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

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How do artists create portraits? Students will take a close look at modern and contemporary portraiture through the lens of artists’ decisions, paying particular attention to the different approaches that artists take to their subject matter and the different processes that they use in making their art.

First Lady Michelle Obama (2018)

by Amy Sherald

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Program Rating

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About This Program


Multipoint: $0.00
Multipoint Premium: $0.00



30-60 minutes based on your needs

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 Homeschool students

Minimum participants:


Maximum participants:


Primary Disciplines

Fine Arts, Language Arts/English, Social Studies/History

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference – Webcam/desktop (Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, etc...)

Booking Information

Program will be offered Monday through Friday, from October 3, 2022, through May 26, 2023. The program can be thirty, forty-five, or sixty minutes in length and are offered between 9:30am (EST) and 4:00pm (EST).

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Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

Cancellations must be submitted at least one week prior to the scheduled videoconference.
On the day of program, The Portrait Gallery has the right to cancel or alter the scheduled program if your group is more than 10 minutes late.

About This Provider

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Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Washington, DC
United States

            The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story. 

Jocelyn Kho
(202) 633-8514

Program Details


Videoconference presenters show portraits from the museum’s collection using the Smithsonian Learning Lab platform (https://learninglab.si.edu/org/NPG). Through inquiry-based questions and discussion, presenters engage with participants as they explore the portraits together.


After completing this lesson, students will be better able to:
-Examine modern and contemporary portraiture and identify, compare, and contrast visual elements in the portrait.
-Identify and analyze the contributions of modern and contemporary Americans to U.S. history and society.
-Discuss the specific choices an artist has made in his or her portraits.
-Discuss the relevancy of portraiture as a contemporary art form.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

Key Ideas and Details:
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Craft and Structure:
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).
Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author's point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:
Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.

Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author's claims.
Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Evaluate an author's premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

State Standards

Social Studies
Standard 5.0: Students will examine significant ideas, beliefs, and themes; organize patterns and events; and analyze how individuals and societies have changed over time in Maryland and the United States.
Standard 6.0 Social Studies Skills and Processes: Students shall use reading, writing, and thinking processes and skills to gain knowledge and understanding of political, historical, and current events using chronological and spatial thinking, economic reasoning, and historical interpretation, by framing and evaluating questions from primary and secondary sources.
Acquire Social Studies Information
Identify primary and secondary sources of information that relate to the topic/situation/problem being studied
b. Read and obtain information from texts representing diversity in content, culture, authorship, and perspective
c. Locate & gather data, information from non-print sources, i.e. music, artifacts, charts, maps, graphs, photographs, video clips, illustrations, paintings, political cartoons, multimedia, interviews, oral histories

Visual arts
Standard 1.0: Students will demonstrate the ability to perceive, interpret, and respond to ideas, experiences, and the environment through visual art.
Standard 2.0: Students will demonstrate an understanding of visual arts as a basic aspect of history and human experience.

District of Columbia
Social Studies
Standard 5.15. Students describe some of the major economic and social trends of the late 20th century.
Standard 11.13. Students describe important events and trends of the late 20th century.

Visual Arts
Standard 1: Each student will understand and apply media, techniques and process in the creation and production of art.
Standard 3: Each student will choose and evaluate a range of subject matter, symbols and ideas to communicate meaning in artworks.

Social Studies
Standard GOVT.1: The student will demonstrate mastery of the social studies skills
responsible citizenship requires, including the ability to
a) analyze primary and secondary source documents;
c) analyze political cartoons, political advertisements, pictures, and other graphic media
Standard USII.1: The student will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis and responsible citizenship, including the ability to
a) analyze and interpret primary and secondary source documents to increase understanding of events and life in United States history from 1865 to the present
b) make connections between the past and the present;
c) sequence events in United States history from 1865 to the present;
d) interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives;

Visual Arts
Standard 7.19: the student will explore and identify subjects, themes, and symbols as they relate to meaning in works of art.
Standard 7.26: the student will analyze and describe how factors of time and place
influence visual characteristics that give meaning and value to a work of art.