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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Portrait School

Visiting the National Portrait Gallery
Video: 1 minute

Eyes this way. In Portrait School your students will discover Australia’s most creative and innovative thinkers and achievers. Through close engagement with the portraits, these programs are dynamic, participatory and encourage collaboration and critical thinking; and include a variety of creative activities that cater for different learning preferences.

Access programs are provided for students of all ages and abilities; including programs for students with low vision or hard of hearing. Tailored programs are available upon request, with advance notice.

Programs are available Monday to Friday 9:00am – 6:00pm. The Gallery is open seven days per week 10:00am – 5:00pm (closed 25 December).

Group size is 15 students per Gallery staff. (Preschool, Foundation and Year 1 group size 10). Maximum group size 60 per program. Adult supervision is required at all times. Student behaviour, safety and security are the responsibility of the visiting educator.

On arrival you will be met by Gallery staff. Students are asked to please leave their bags on their bus. Aim to arrive 10 minutes before the start of your program.

If you have any queries or additional requirements, please email bookings@npg.gov.au

The National Portrait Gallery is in the process of transitioning to the Book Canberra Excursions portal and this will be the primary way to book onsite programs very soon.

Portrait school programs and fees

We have six topics you can choose from: Visual art; Civics and citizenship; History; and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activism and Visual Thinking Strategies™.

The programs run for 60–90 minutes and cost $3 per Australian school student, no matter whether they’re in Preschool or Year 12. Teachers free of charge. If you’re wanting to beam in for a virtual excursion from across the country, good news, they’re free! If you're reading this from overseas, please email us at bookings@npg.gov.au for costs.

Premium facilitated program (Years 4 to 12) 90 minutes $9 per student
Facilitated program (Preschool to year 12) 60 minutes $6 per student
Headhunt! (Years 5 to 9) 60 minutes $3 per student
Headhunt! evening program (Years 5 to 9) 60 minutes $6 per student
Virtual Excursion 60 minutes free

In some instances, visits to the National Portrait Gallery can count for PACER rebate purposes when booking a civics and citizenship or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activism program. See information on alternative arrangements to apply when your school cannot book into either MOAD or the National Electoral Education Centre at pacer.org.au.

Available Programs

Visual art

Our visual art programs investigate ways students can interpret portraits. They’ll look at aspects of biography, identity and culture; look at portraits that use different styles and media; and learn through discussion, activity and drawing.

History

Our history programs identify significant historical periods, events and ideas through key individuals who have shaped Australia’s social, economic, political and cultural developments. Students will explore portraits through visual analysis, contrast and compare works from different eras, pictorial representation; and discover how portraits can be used as historical documents.

Civics and citizenship

In these programs we emphasise recognition of individuals from diverse backgrounds and fields of endeavour who have excelled and contributed to society. Students will discover ways to examine the portraits of significant Australians – past and present – through discussion, role play and drawing.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievements and activism

This program identifies significant events and ideas in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, through key individuals who have shaped the political and cultural developments involved. Students will explore portraits via visual analysis, debate and pictorial representation; and discover how portraits can be used as historical documents.

Visual Thinking Strategies™

In collaboration with Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS™ New York), we present critical thinking and visual literacy programs for all levels of education. In them we incorporate concepts of ‘close looking’; verbalising observations and backing up theories with evidence, close listening and developing the skill to simultaneously hold different and sometimes conflicting ideas as possibilities.. Students are provided with new skills to navigate and critically examine our image-saturated world. The emphasis is on discussion-based, student-centric learning.

We have a number of ways you can engage in VTS with us:

  • Choose a VTS program for your students when you book a program.
  • Attend one of our VTS programs for teachers.
  • Consider making your school a VTS partner with us. You can visit us with students or we can live stream with VTS programs into your classroom.

Bookings

Want to book in for any (or all) of these programs? Head over to our bookings page.

© National Portrait Gallery 2023
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency