Spike Lee and Bill T. Jones to be Honored at Second Biennial American Portrait Gala

On November 19, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will hold its second biennial American Portrait Gala to honor individuals who have made an impact on the nation’s shared history, development, and culture. Among the honorees are film director, producer, writer and actor Spike Lee and artistic director, choreographer, and dancer Bill T. Jones.

Patrick Ewing, basketball Hall-of-Famer, will present the award to Lee and artist Glenn Ligon will present to Jones.

“This year’s honorees represent America’s accomplished experts at 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.”

Other honorees include Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine K. Albright; medical doctor and HIV/AIDS researcher David D. Ho, M.D.; and multi-award-winning actress Rita Moreno

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.

The evening will culminate with a musical performance by four-time Grammy Award-winning artist Esperanza Spalding.

The goal of the American Portrait Gala is to raise $1 million to strengthen the museum’s endowment, which supports compelling exhibitions that tell the dynamic and multifaceted story of America.

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.

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