Records in this record unit document the exhibition research and activities of the National Portrait Gallery and its Office of Exhibitions. Particularly well represented are exhibitions mounted between 1974 and 1976, with materials documenting research and publications on numerous artists, paintings, prints, broadsides, books, documents and letters. A large amount of correspondence reflects contacts with artists, donors, and national and international art institutions and galleries, and the public reactions to the exhibitions.
The records provide documentation for the creation and preparation of exhibitions during two important periods in the United States history: exhibitions of African American art during the period immediately following the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s, and exhibitions with themes and celebratory messages for the observance of the Bicentennial of the American Revolution in 1976. The records also document both the Gallery's history and functions of different departments.
Included in the records are correspondence between curators, artists, museum specialists and professionals, including art organizations; correspondence and memoranda with other Smithsonian curators; local galleries and studios; research notes on artists and their work; loan agreements; condition reports; exhibition reports and scripts; checklists; schedules and catalogs; architectural designs and plans; exhibition floor plans and charts; photographs, prints and color slides of exhibition objects and artists; biographies of artists; press releases; exhibition reviews; magazine and journal articles; excerpts from books; lecture notes and programs and schedules; and committee minutes. Included are administrative records, such as budgetary estimates and projections, travel and shipping vouchers and insurance policy materials.
The records are grouped by exhibition; and each exhibition constitutes a series. Users should however consult the current edition of the Guide to the Smithsonian Archives in order to identify additional related records in other record units for the National Portrait Gallery.
The Smithsonian Institution Archives cannot provide any information on art works given or loaned anonymously. Researchers who wish to obtain permission to see such information will be referred to the Office of the Registrar, National Portrait Gallery.