Explore! Gallery at the National Portrait Gallery

A collaboration between the Smithsonian Institute’s National Portrait Gallery and the Explore! Children’s Museum of Washington, DC, we designed the National Portrait Gallery’s first-ever space dedicated to children. At Explore! with the National Portrait Gallery, identity is  the core theme.  It is a space where visitors can experiment with portraiture in an age-appropriate way to answer questions such as “What is a portrait?” “How do I see myself?” and “How do others see me?”.  By providing both hands-on experiences designed to compliment the gallery's collections, this gallery challenges kids age 18 months and older to explore what portraiture truly is.

For this gallery, we updated the Silhouettes and Face Blocks experiences, in addition to creating a multi-surfaced activity station that the gallery's education team can adapt for use with various programs. We collaborated with artist Amanda Long to create a new version of Silly Faces, re-imagined as Strike a Pose, to tie into the goals for the NPG.  The gallery is bilingual and wheelchair-accessible, featuring five interactive components and two original artworks that symbolize the ideals of both institutions.

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Anne Fullenkamp