After a pandemic delay, the Portrait of a Nation Gala is back on in 2022 to honor Dr. Fauci, José Andrés, Serena and Venus Williams, and others. This year’s chosen honorees will be celebrated on November 12th, with their portraits added to the Smithsonian museum’s collection.
The most anticipated honoree is Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, who told The Washington Post that he was highly honored to be receiving the recognition.
“It is one of the most humbling of all of the recognition that I’ve gotten,” he said. “I’ve lived in Washington the last 50 years and the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery is an iconic place in my mind. It makes me feel humbled and almost embarrassed to be in the same building with the people whose portraits are there.”
Other 2022 award winners are tennis champions and activists Serena and Venus Williams, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, DC chef and humanitarian José Andrés, Grammy-winning music producer Clive Davis, and Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman.
The award was created in 2015 and is given to those who “made transformative contributions to the United States and its people across numerous fields of endeavor, ranging from the arts and sciences to sports and humanitarianism,” according to the Smithsonian. The gallery will display a portrait of each honoree, with the pieces permanently joining the Smithsonian collection. The portraits will be displayed starting November 10th, 2022.
Kim Sajet, the Director of the National Portrait Gallery, told The Post that “It’s a moment to pay gratitude to people who have made the world a better place. It’s about recognizing them in their lifetime, knowing that their portraits will be there for future generations.”
Unfortunately, the 2021 gala was postponed for twelve months due to the pandemic, however this year it’s back on and set. Previous honorees have included Aretha Franklin, Bill T. Jones, Anna Wintour, Maya Lin, and Madeleine Albright, among others.
The 2022 honorees have worked to address social justice, health and wellness, economic inequality, and equity and inclusion, and each has had a major impact on the world, especially during the pandemic, Sajet said.
“I’m grateful we have these people in the world right now,” she said. “They have all helped us, in their own way, to cope.
A unique aspect of the gala is that each honoree is at liberty to choose who will present their award. In past years, Patrick Ewing honored Spike Lee, Michelle Obama presented Lin-Manuel Miranda his award, and Robert Redford was chosen to celebrate Madeleine Albright.
The gala will be held in the museum’s courtyard, with dinner, a private viewing of the portraits, and a performance. However, you don’t have to wait till November to visit the National Portrait Gallery! Click here to see the latest exhibitions and get tickets.