Enter the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition

The call for entries for the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition will begin on Monday, May 28, 2018 (Memorial Day) and run through Monday, September 3, 2018 (Labor Day).  


Who May Enter?

The competition is open to all professional artists age 18 and over who are living and working in the United States and its territories.

What To Enter?

Each artist may enter one work depicting anyone—a friend, a stranger, a relative, yourself—but it must be the result of the artist’s direct encounter with that person. While the human form must be the focus of the work, artists are invited to interpret the concept of portraiture broadly; for example, an entry might not include a face.

The work entered should be understood as a portrait in the broadest sense. It may be a traditional, representational work or it may be a more experimental or conceptual portrait, but it must be based on the artist’s direct contact with any living individual(s). Self-portraits will be accepted.

Each artist may enter only one portrait, and it must have been completed after January 1, 2013.

Entries will be accepted in all visual arts media including but not restricted to: painting, drawing and watercolor, sculpture, weaving, ceramics, photography, prints, video, film, performance, and digital or time-based media.

Paintings, drawings, photographs, prints, pastels, and watercolors should be framed (strip frames on paintings are acceptable). Paintings should preferably be unglazed. Works on paper should be framed and glazed with UV filtering glass or Plexiglas. All two-dimensional work shall measure no more than 7 feet by 7 feet by 8 inches (including frame), nor should they weigh more than 150 pounds. The National Portrait Gallery will provide attachment hardware for works selected for exhibition.

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

Video, film, digital and time-based media will be accepted, and special instructions for entering these works will be available in the online entry form. The online entry form MUST be completed.

How Do I Enter?

Entries will only be accepted electronically, through CallForEntries.org from August 1 until November 30, 2014:

>> Enter The Competition

(You will be leaving the Smithsonian Institution’s website and entering CallForEntry.org)

CafÉ (CallForEntry.org), a third-party art services organization “that develops technology systems that benefit the arts,“ is collecting information about artists submitting entries to the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition on behalf of the National Portrait Gallery. Please note that CaFÉ‘s Terms and Conditions apply to artist submissions (application and images). Any data that the National Portrait Gallery receives from CaFÉ is subject to the National Portrait Gallery’s Terms and Conditions for the competition, which can be found on the Enter page, as well as the Smithsonian Institution’s Terms of Use and privacy statement, which can be found at http://www.si.edu/termsofuse and http://www.si.edu/privacy.

Entry to the competition—and submission of JPEG images—is available online for a nonrefundable registration fee of $45. Artists who wish to submit time-based media (video, film, digital animation) will find instructions for entry on the competition website.

Artists may submit a statement about their work, their particular entry, and/or the circumstances of the creation of the portrait. Dimensions and medium information will also be required.

Entry Deadlines and Schedule

Entries may be submitted beginning August 1, 2014, 9:00 a.m. MT (Mountain Time). Call for Entries closes November 30, 2014, midnight MT(Mountain Time).

Semifinalists will be notified April 1, 2015. Semifinalist work must be available for shipping to Washington, D.C. July 13, 2015.

On or about September 18, 2015, finalists will be notified of selection and non-finalists will be contacted about return of their works.

The 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition exhibition will open at the National Portrait Gallery on March 12, 2016, and will close on January 8, 2017. The Portrait Gallery is planning a national tour of the exhibition to three additional venues through August 2018. Artworks will be returned to exhibiting lenders at the close of the final venue of the exhibition.

Judging and Notification

The first round of jurying will be done online by a panel of experts selected by the National Portrait Gallery, who will select approximately 100 semifinalists. On or before April 1, 2015, the National Portrait Gallery will contact artists who have been selected as semifinalists by e-mail. Artists whose work was not selected for further consideration will also be notified at this time. Upon notification of semifinalist status, entrants will be required to sign a loan agreement. Artists will be required to sign an affadavit confirming their eligibility.

On or before September 18, 2015, approximately 50 to 60 finalists whose work has been selected for the exhibition, including those awarded prizes, will be notified by e-mail. Works not selected will be returned to the owners only to an address within the United States as provided by the artist. The public will have the opportunity to vote for the People's Choice Award during the run of the exhibition.

All works transported to Washington will be returned to the owners at the Portrait Gallery's expense. 


The National Portrait Gallery reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any artist it finds to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Portrait Competition or website or to be acting in violation of the Rules of Entry.

Artists chosen as semifinalists may not alter the work entered in any way, i.e., by printing photographs in different sizes, by additional varnishing, etc. Work entered in the competition may not be sold at any time during the competition, subsequent exhibition, and tour.

Artists must have written approval to submit a work by the artist that is owned by a third party, and must provide the owner’s guarantee that (1) the owner will be bound by these rules and (2) if required the work may be placed on loan to the National Portrait Gallery for the competition, and duration of the exhibition and subsequent tour.

All exhibiting artists and prizewinners will also be required to sign a loan form for the duration of the exhibition and any subsequent tour, as well as a consent form for the use of their name, image, and artwork in connection with the Portrait Competition exhibition, publication, and all related advertising, marketing, publicity, public programs, and promotion for the exhibition.

Semifinalist works will be packed if necessary, and shipped, at the National Portrait Gallery’s expense, to Washington, D.C., for further judging from the original portraits. Work brought to and from the National Portrait Gallery for the Portrait Competition will be handled by professional art handlers and installers and all arrangements will be made by the National Portrait Gallery.

Work will be picked up only from an address in the United States and its territories, and the National Portrait Gallery will return work only to the address from which it was picked up, unless the artist notifies the National Portrait Gallery in writing of a change of address in the United States. All packing and shipping will be handled and paid for by the National Portrait Gallery, but the artist must cover any costs that exceed $3,000 one way.

If the return address is more than 50 miles distant from the original pick-up address, the artist may be required to cover the difference in shipping costs. The artist shall carry insurance for the work while in transit to and from the National Portrait Gallery. Insurance in the amount of the good-faith estimate of value determined by the artist shall be placed on all loans and carried in force from the time the work enters the custody of the National Portrait Gallery and is condition-reported until the work leaves the National Portrait Gallery at the conclusion of the exhibition, including any subsequent tour. This shall be an all-risk policy, subject to standard policy exclusions carried by the Smithsonian Institution, and all costs shall be borne by the National Portrait Gallery.

In the event of loss or damage to the work while in the custody of the National Portrait Gallery, the artist will be required to accept insurance proceeds as its sole form of remedy against the National Portrait Gallery. Works that cannot be repaired if damaged due to the nature of the materials will not be insured and the National Portrait Gallery bears no responsibility for damage or loss to such works. The National Portrait Gallery bears no responsibility for loss or damage caused by normal wear and tear or inherent deterioration of the works. Works selected for exhibition cannot be removed by the artist or owner before the end of the exhibition (and subsequent tour) and may not be sold during the course of the competition or the exhibition (March 12, 2016 – January 8, 2017) and the subsequent tour (February 2017 through August 2018).

The National Portrait Gallery is not responsible for any problems or technical malfunctions of the Internet or any website, including injury or damage to artists or to any other person's computer related to or resulting from participating or downloading materials in this Portrait Competition. If, for any reason, the Portrait Competition is not capable of running as planned, the National Portrait Gallery reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the Portrait Competition. Collection of personally identifiable information from artists will be done in accordance with the Smithsonian Institution Privacy Policy as posted on http://www.si.edu/privacy.


The winner of the competition will receive a cash award of $25,000 and will be awarded a separate commission to portray a remarkable living American for the Portrait Gallery’s collection. The winning artist and the Portrait Gallery will collaborate to select the subject for the commissioned portrait. The second-prize winner will receive $7,500, and the third-prize winner will receive $5,000. Up to four additional artists may be commended for their work, and they will receive $1,000 each. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will receive $500. All finalists’ works will form a major exhibition on view at the National Portrait Gallery from March 12, 2016, through January 8, 2017 and the subsequent national tour through August 2018.  

The Exhibition

The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2016 is scheduled to be on view at the National Portrait Gallery from March 12, 2016 through January 8, 2017. A national tour is being planned with three venues through August 2018. The exhibition will comprise approximately 50 selected portraits, including the prizewinning entries.

The up to seven top artists who have been shortlisted for an award will be expected to attend the presentation ceremony in March 2016. The National Portrait Gallery will reimburse these artists for standard travel and lodging costs, subject to prior approval by the National Portrait Gallery. All artists whose works are exhibited will be invited to attend the opening reception.


Ownership of all portraits submitted for the Portrait Competition, including copyright, will remain the property of the artist, but it is a condition of entry that the artist shall grant to the National Portrait Gallery the irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide right to use and reproduce all exhibited works for the exhibition publications, public programs, publicity, promotion, research, postcards, prints, posters, and other products, in all formats, including but not limited to electronic distribution on websites and social media accounts maintained by the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian, in connection with the Portrait Competition and resulting exhibition.

Distribution can occur either through printed or electronic media. The artist is required to secure a written model release from the subject to enable the National Portrait Gallery to use and reproduce the portrait. Semifinalists will be provided with a form for this purpose. The winning artist will be required to transfer ownership of, and assign all rights, including copyright, in the commissioned portrait to the National Portrait Gallery, but the National Portrait Gallery will grant the artist a license to reproduce the portrait for use in his or her portfolio for noncommercial, portfolio purposes.

The commissioned portrait will be submitted to the National Portrait Gallery’s Commission for approval of its inclusion in the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection. By participating in this contest, artists agree to be bound by these rules, including all eligibility requirements. All interpretations of the rules and decisions by the National Portrait Gallery relating to the rules and the Portrait Competition are final.