Call Detail
Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition National Portrait Gallery
Entry Deadline: 2/5/21
Application Closed

Entry Fee (Entry Fee): $50.00
Work Sample Requirements
Images | Minimum:Min. 1, Maximum:Max. 2
Audio | Minimum:Min. 0, Maximum:Max. 1
Video | Minimum:Min. 0, Maximum:Max. 1
Total Samples | Minimum:Min. 1, Maximum:Max. 2
Call Type: Competitions
Eligibility: National
State: District of Columbia

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery invites artists to submit one portrait in any media for consideration in the sixth triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. As with past editions, the competition seeks to broaden the definition of portraiture and highlight the genre’s relevance in society and contemporary art. Artworks may originate from direct encounters between the artist and the sitter or draw upon existing imagery or archival research in response to history. Artists are encouraged to think about portraiture’s potential to engage with the social and political landscape of our time.

All finalists’ works will form a major exhibition that will be on view at the Portrait Gallery from April 2022 through February 2023, with plans for a subsequent national tour. The competition is named for Virginia Outwin Boochever (1920–2005), a former Portrait Gallery volunteer whose generous gift endowed the program.

The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2022 is open to artists who are at least 18 years old (by time of entry) and who are living and working in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each artist may enter only one work.

The competition welcomes all media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, printmaking, textiles, video, performance, and digital or time-based art.

Paintings, drawings, photographs, and other works on paper should be framed (strip frames on paintings are acceptable). Works on paper should be framed and glazed with UV filtering acrylic (i.e. Plexiglas) or UV filtering anti-static acrylic in the case of pastels and charcoals. All two-dimensional works shall measure no more than 7 feet x 7 feet x 8 inches (including frame), nor should they weigh more than 150 pounds. Wall-mounted works should be submitted inclusive of mounting hardware (D-rings, cleats, etc.). In the event that no hardware is included with a submission, the Portrait Gallery will add hardware at our discretion and according to best museum practices. The Portrait Gallery will provide corresponding wall-side hardware when installing works selected for exhibition.  

For time-based media art, artists should submit a compressed exhibition copy not to exceed 10 MB for audio and 100 MB for video. Up to one video or two images of the artwork can be submitted. 

Performance art submissions should include a fully developed, finished written concept and visuals. If the work has already been performed, photographic or video documentation of the work should be included as a compressed video file not to exceed 100 MB, or two still images. If it has never been performed, a storyboard or drawings outlining the action should be submitted as an image file. 

Sculptures may be freestanding or wall-mounted and may be composed of any sculptural media. This includes, but is not limited to, stone, metal, fiber, clay, wood, paper, and resin. Sculptures should not exceed 7 feet (height) x 7 feet x 4 feet in size, nor should they weigh more than 150 pounds. The Portrait Gallery will provide platforms or pedestals. 

Works must be new; any works completed before January 1, 2019, will be disqualified.  

The processing fee helps to cover the shipping costs from all eligible locations for the semifinalists' artworks to be evaluated in-person. We understand that these are challenging times and aim to make this competition as equitable as possible. If you are having difficulties meeting this fee, please contact us at

Application Requirements

Eligibility Criteria