National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery

In my family, my plans are not always met with enthusiasm. I don’t quite understand this, because I think my plans are always lots of fun! ☺ But since my family doesn’t always agree with me, I have to have a couple of incentives up my sleeve to get them on board with what I want to do.

One of those incentives is food. Over the years, I have learned that food is a great bribery method, or incentive, to get them to come with me. But the other thing I have up my sleeve happens one day a year, and that is my birthday. On my birthday, I can get anyone in the family to do pretty much anything with me. It makes me wish my birthday came around at least once a month, if not more often!

It was my birthday the first time I went to the National Portrait Gallery . Emilee, Kara and Natalie came with me, and I had a great visit. I’m not sure if they liked it or not—because it was my birthday, they didn’t whine or complain even once, but just followed me through the building.

But when I wanted to visit the Portrait Gallery a few weeks ago, I didn’t have my birthday to fall back on, sadly. So I fell to my other bribe—food. I knew that Shake Shack was right across the street, so that became our plan for lunch.

Shake Shack

Shake Shack–right across the street

It didn’t take long to convince Natalie to come.

The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Smithsonian, but north of the National Mall. It is a few blocks behind the National Archives, on F Street. It shares the building with the American Art Museum—so it doesn’t take up the whole building. Both museums tell America’s history through art.

Parking around the Portrait Gallery is metered, street parking, so we drove around a little bit until we found a spot—conveniently right next to the Shake Shack!

I decided to do something a little different on this visit—a “Highlights Tour”. Sometimes I shy away from tours, as they can be a little boring for my kids, but I decided to give this one a try. We timed our arrival just a few minutes before the 11:45 “Highlights Tour” of the Portrait Gallery. (There are other tours also available (visit this link for information on all the tours:

The tour started right behind the information desk on the first floor.

Waiting for the tour

Waiting for the tour to start–Natalie sitting while she can, and Sterling on the phone

Our docent was very knowledgeable, actually pretty interesting and even a little bit funny. I was pleasantly surprised! He led us to some of the highlights, taking us to all three floors. Our tour began with the time period around the American Revolution

Ben Franklin

Recognize this picture of Ben Franklin in the Portrait Gallery? Check out the $100 bill.

and ended with our latest Presidents in the American Presidents exhibit.

George Washington

My favorite part of the museum–the President’s Gallery–especially this picture of George!

While Sterling and I enjoyed the tour, listening to the different stories and facts, Natalie kept trying to find the closest place to sit down.

Natalie finding a seat

A welcome seat for Natalie during the tour

It wasn’t really drawing her in. So, next time we go, we’ll ditch the tour and pick up a “Portrait Discovery Kit” and explore the museum that way. (The Portrait Discovery Kits are only available in the afternoons on Saturday (1:00-4:00) and Sunday (2:00-5:00) and can be picked up outside the Education Center.) It’s a treasure hunt, which is a much more fun way to see a museum for a lot of us.

There was one part of the tour that Natalie did like—and Sterling and I did too! In the middle of the building is a giant covered courtyard!

Courtyard at Portrait Gallery

The indoor covered courtyard–my new favorite indoor picnic spot in DC!

Tables are set up, and you can even bring food in from the outside to eat there. So guess where we ate our Shake Shack order to go? You guessed it!



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