National Portrait Gallery to host first protrait exhibition after renowation

Like their neighborhood, the two museums will be barely recognizable to those who haven't seen them since the late 1990s. Offices and storage facilities were moved off site to allow the museums to add 57,000 square feet of exhibition space, opening up entire galleries and halls and giving the building a flowing spaciousness it never had, Bloomberg reports.

"Facing East: Portraits From Asia," a sparkling exhibition of about 70 works culled from the collections of the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler galleries of Eastern art opened in new exhibition halls.

The exhibit is organized into three main categories designed to explore how personal identity has been represented in Asian art: Portraits and Memory, Likeness and Identity and Projecting Identity. These include collective, individual and sacred depictions, Washington File reports.

A portrait can venerate our predecessors, as in the ancestor portraits of Qing Dynasty China, whose solid symmetry and elaborate ornament do honor to the honorable kin they show.

The show gives you the sense that some kind of basic urge to portray comes first. Function may come along later, to take advantage of that urge and maybe justify it.