Every three years, the National Portrait Gallery invites both emerging and established artists working in the U.S. to submit a recent portrait to the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Around fifty works are then selected by expert jurors who, on average, review more than 2,500 entries. The competition has evolved since its inception in 2006 to include performance art and time-based media alongside painting, photography, drawing, and sculpture.

As part of its deep commitment to supporting contemporary artists working in portraiture, the National Portrait Gallery looks to the Outwin to share the genre’s remarkable relevance and strengthen the visual representation of American history. Each iteration of the competition gauges portraiture’s progression while underscoring the potential of one person to make an impact.

The Outwin is made possible through the Virginia Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Endowment, established by Virginia Outwin Boochever (1920–2005), who served as a docent for the National Portrait Gallery for nearly two decades. Mrs. Boochever’s vision for the Outwin is now carried out by her children.