Private Tour: Smithsonian Portrait Gallery & American Art Museum
17 Ratings

Two of Washington’s most renowned museums are housed in the historic Old Patent Office Building, a place where history converges with art. Embark on an exclusive 2.5-hour tour of the National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum, and explore the finest American-created masterpieces gathered under one roof.

Duration: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Cancellation: 1 day learn more
  • National Portrait Gallery - Once a Civil War Era hospital, this building has featured art exhibits as early as 1829. Poet Walt Whitman tended to wounded soldiers here, commemorated by a portrait hanging here today in the National Portrait Gallery. Other portraits recall the great women and men who shaped the United States. Presidential portraits, as well as those of the first ladies, trace a long lineage of famous leaders. Civil War figures, like Grant and Sherman, recall a more turbulent time in the nation’s history. An eclectic mix of paintings and photographs, as well as 19th century daguerreotypes, recall the Robber Barons, the Suffragettes, and various other individuals throughout the US’s short but remarkable past.

Within the American Art Museum, appreciate scenes by American artists like Mary Cassatt, who took part in the Impressionist movement. Fast-forward to Georgia O’Keeffe and her provocative flowers. Learn about the photographs commissioned by the government during the Great Depression as well as the curious portrait of former president Obama. Discover famous artists like Edward Hopper and David Hockney before moving on to more experimental and contemporary art that will need a bit of explaining to understand how this all fits into America’s very unique story.

What's Included
  • Exclusive Tour Guide
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Guided Museum Experience
  • 2.5-Hour Tour
What's Not Included
  • Food and drinks
  • Gratuities
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off
Additional Information
  • It is imperative that you provide us with guests MOBILE PHONE NUMBER (including country code)
  • Notes: National Portrait Gallery & American Art Museum may be subjected to occasional closures without previous warning from the museum management. When this occurs, we will provide guests with an appropriate alternative if the museum opening time is delayed more than 1h from the tour starting time. In these cases we are unable to provide refunds or discounts. Appropriate dress is required for entry into some sites on this tour. No large bags or suitcases are allowed inside the museum, only handbags or small thin bag packs are allowed through security. Due to increased security measures at many attractions some lines may form on tours with ‘Skip the Line’ or ‘No Wait’ access. Some specific rooms inside the museum are subjected to a very quiet or restricted right to speak inside, in this cases your guide will provide the information about this places before entering the specific rooms where this rule applies. Some collections may vary along the year.
National Portrait Gallery
Meet on the stairs outside of the G street entrance in front of the the sign reading "National Portrait Gallery"
Cancellation Policy

For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours before the scheduled departure time.

Customer Ratings
(17 Ratings)
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1 star
Mar 8, 2024
Savvy guide - Annemarie was amazing! She knew so much about both history and art and tailored the tour to our interests. Such a great storyteller and conversationalist.
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Mar 8, 2024
Fabulous guide and fun experience - Ann Marie was fabulous! We loved our tour very much. She pointed out things we never would have seen on our own! A five star private tour!
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Oct 24, 2023
Highly recommend - Annemarie gave us a spectacular, informative tour of the portrait gallery and the American art museum . She was personable, full of interesting stories, and we learned so much !
Review provided by Viator
Oct 10, 2023
Great Experience - Annemarie was amazing with both the adults and the kids in our group! She was highly knowledgeable, not only informing us about aspects/context of the art we were viewing, but also asked compelling questions to make us think about what we were perceiving too. She made sure to show us the highlights we were looking forward to AND the interesting/important pieces we would’ve have missed without her expertise and guidance.
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Aug 11, 2023
Private guided tour of Portrait Gallery and America art musy - We had a wonderful private tour of the portrait Gallery and American Art Museum. Our tour guide was Annmarie and she was fantastic. We had a wonderful afternoon and learned a lot.
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Jul 15, 2023
Great tour with Annemarie - Annemarie was a great tour guide. She is super friendly and knowledgeable. We highly recommend her!
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Jun 7, 2023
A tour that keeps your interest. - Annemarie was great. She was very nice, flexible, and going with our interests. She knows the history of the building , of Washington, of the country & of the presidents. I especially liked the portraits of the presidents, & learning more US history. (PS- Your TripAdvisor categories for this questionnaire are lacking; there’s no category for family (adults), so I used friends!!)
Review provided by Tripadvisor
May 29, 2023
Fun and Informative - Rebecca, WOW what a great tour guide. The Portrait Gallery and SAAM is, like all the Smithsonians, HUGE. Rebecca covered it all with informative information but made the history fun, exciting, and amusing. We moved at a steady pace so we could see it all but the pace was just right for the 2 hour tour. We could not have seen a tenth of the museums on our own or come away educated and happy. Thank you, Rebecca!
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Apr 28, 2023
Super Fun Smithsonian Portrait Gallery Private Tour with Richard - What a wonderful experience my adult son and I had on our private tour of the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum. We booked this private tour on Trip Advisor, through Babylon Tours, who assigned us the most outstanding, super fun, professional and smart as a whip tour guide, Richard. From start to finish, we could not have been more pleased! 

 Richard was perfectly communicative and informative. And, with perfect finesse, he interjected just the right amount of wit and humor into our day. Starting at the front (south side) of the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum (same building; 2 purposes) Richard briefly told us about the building we were about to tour and about the other historical buildings in our immediate line of sight. I loved the way Richard pieced it all together for us -- who was influential in the development of the buildings and what was going on, historically, at that time. Then he escorted us into the breathtaking building, swept us through the very peaceful atrium/courtyard, and then escorted us right out the other side to the back of the building, now standing at the top of the steps that led down the sidewalk and across the way to DC's Carnegie Library at the end of the road. I was chuckling to myself as we exited the other side not 4 minutes after we arrived and was tempted to say, "Well, that was awesome, Richard. Thanks so much for the tour!" But he beat me to it, with his quick wit, shook my son's hand, and said "Well, that was the tour. Thanks so much for coming!" Ha! Richard then told us about some of the interesting buildings we could see from the top of the steps before escorting us back into the building. He swooped us through the most fascinating displays, one after the next, floor after floor, up and down, down and up, pointing out so many interesting highlights along the way and regaling us with colorful vignettes about the artists, the art, the subjects in the paintings, and the museum's very interesting conservation center. 

My son and I love to stop and read nearly everything we can at every good museum. But with so much to see in just one amazing building, not to mention all of the other Smithsonian museums and beyond ... Well, to me, the prospect of wanting to see everything, and knowing that we can't possibly see it all, can become quickly overwhelming. That is why I booked this private tour with the professional and extremely capable Babylon Tours. 

Richard, the tour guide they assigned, was smart as H-E-double L, funny, super interesting (wow, what a career, what a life!), patient, kind, thoughtful, and extremely customer service oriented. He knew his stuff!

 We had such a fulfilling and fun time learning about the building and its history, and being whisked through so many incredibly captivating portraits, hearing so many juicy stories along the way, not worrying a bit about time or space or which way to go right now, but rather just following our astute tour guide and looking forward to the next fabulous thing he had to show us. It was SO MUCH FUN!!! (Richard also took us down a nearby alley to the back of Ford's theater and regaled us with more fascinating history. Such a nice surprise!) Five stars all around, Richard. 

Thank you so much!! (The review format required me to answer "Who was with you?" I was required to choose between Family (young children), Family (teens), Couples, Business, Solo, and Friends. I was with my adult son, as I mentioned. I found "Friends" to be the most accurate response of those that were permitted.)
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Mar 29, 2023
Bess was the Best! - The Smithsonian Portrait Gallery was a must see for us on our Washington, DC trip but with 220,000 works we wanted to be sure to hit the highlights. Bess helped us do that! Over two and a half hours we enjoyed descriptions and stories about many many pieces of art. Bess was a storehouse of information and she was tireless.
Review provided by Tripadvisor
Select Date and Tickets
up to 8 guests
1 Adult
April 2024