National Portrait Gallery


LILI Unit: National Portrait Gallery

Essential Question: How do portraits tell stories about people? Pre-trip lesson:  This program utilizes portraits as a vehicle for students to make inferences, interpret symbols, and justify ideas with evidence. Students look closely. Students look closely at how different sitters are depicted; they analyze posture, facial expressions, the composition of the art, and other clues. They then synthesize their findings to tell a story about the sitter.
Level of Difficulty:High Trip:  At the museum, students examine portraits of individuals from the “20th Century Americans” exhibit. They utilize the same set of skills practiced in the classroom to uncover and interpret the stories told in the portraits.
Academic Standards:

  • English Language Arts (CC.4.R.I.2, CC.4.L.4.a)
  • Visual Arts (4.4.1)
Post-trip lesson:  As a culminating activity, students use mirrors as they create their own self-portraits, using symbols to tell the viewer their story. Students also test their knowledge of the artistic elements of portraits as they compete in a collaborative review game and take written assessments.