Rita Moreno

This November, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will hold its second biennial American Portrait Gala, honoring five individuals who have made an impact on the nation’s shared history, development and culture and whose portraits reside in the museum’s collection. The 2017 honorees are former Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine K. Albright; medical doctor and HIV/AIDS researcher David D. Ho, M.D.; artistic director, choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones; film director, producer, writer and actor Spike Lee; and multi-award-winning actress Rita Moreno. As leaders in their respective fields, these five luminaries were selected because of their exemplary achievement in politics and diplomacy, the arts, science, entertainment and advocacy.

Honorees will be presented with the Portrait of a Nation Prize during a seated dinner in the museum’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard, a signature element of the renovated National Historic Landmark Building shared by the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Robert Redford, award-winning actor, director, producer and environmentalist, will present the Portrait of a Nation Prize to Albright; Gerald H. Friedland, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Public Health, Director Emeritus, AIDS Program, School of Medicine, Yale University, to Ho; Glenn Ligon, artist, to Jones; Patrick Ewing, basketball Hall-of-Famer, to Lee; and Andrea Mitchell, NBC News and MSNBC journalist, to Moreno. The evening will culminate with a musical performance by four-time Grammy Award-winning artist Esperanza Spalding.

“This year’s honorees represent America’s accomplished experts on the forefront of their diverse fields,” said Kim Sajet, director of the Portrait Gallery. “It is an honor to host such extraordinary individuals and to further our mission of building the museum’s collection to reflect our society’s change makers, artists and leaders through portraiture.”

The goal of the American Portrait Gala is to raise $1 million to strengthen the museum’s endowment for exhibitions, which supports compelling exhibitions that tell the dynamic and multifaceted story of America. The event’s co-chairs are H.E. Martin Dahinden, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States, and Mrs. Anita Dahinden; Robert and Arlene Kogod; and David and Alice Rubenstein. The vice chairs are Mr. and Mrs. Michael H. Podell; Mr. Joseph P. Ujobai; Mr. Eduardo Ardiles and Netflix. The gala’s program chairs are Mr. Tommie L. Pegues and Mr. Donald A. Capoccia.

The American Portrait Gala will take place Sunday, Nov. 19. Information on sponsorship opportunities is available at npg.si.edu/gala.

The original portraits of the honorees taken by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Gregory Heisler, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jesse Frohman and Adál Maldonado, respectively, will be on view in the museum during the gala beginning Nov. 17 through Nov. 4, 2018.

The Portrait Gallery held its inaugural American Portrait Gala in 2015 and honored Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer Henry “Hank” Aaron, U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor recipient Cpl. Kyle Carpenter, singer and musician Aretha Franklin, fashion designer Carolina Herrera and designer and artist Maya Lin, all of whose portraits are in the museum’s collection.

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of America through the individuals who have shaped its culture. Through 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.

The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000.