Portrait of Stephen Colbert at the National Museum of American History




Date: April 1, 2008


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On episodes of satirical cable news show, The Colbert Report, aired in mid-January 2008, host Stephen Colbert attempted to donate his portrait to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, but the museum's director, Brent Glass, suggested that Colbert should speak to the National Portrait Gallery instead. After much "discussion," the director of the National Portrait Gallery, Marc Pachter, found an appropriate place to hang Colbert's portrait, adjacent to the Hall of Presidents and in between the bathrooms and above the water fountain. The line outside the bathroom at the National Portrait Gallery was out the door when the museum officials decided to hang the portrait. The comedic portrait depicts Colbert standing in front of fireplace and a mantle with portrait of him on top, inside of that portrait is another portrait of Colbert in a Russian nesting doll style image. The portrait (inside a portrait inside a portrait) hung for six weeks. After the popularity of Colbert's portrait at NPG, on April 1, 2008, the National Museum of American History changed its mind and agreed to display Stephen Colbert's portrait in the "Treasures of American History" exhibition until it closed on April 13, 2008. Later that year, the portrait went on view in the newly renovated National Museum of American History, where it remained on view until September 2009. The portrait returned to public view at the National Museum of American History on December 16, 2010 and was taken down in August 2011.


  • Colbert, Stephen 1964-
  • Glass, Brent D
  • Pachter, Marc
  • National Museum of American History
  • National Portrait Gallery (U.S.)
  • Treasures of American History 2006: National Air and Space Museum


Chronology of Smithsonian History


Portrait of Stephen Colbert, National Museum of American History Fact Sheet

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


April 1, 2008


  • Celebrities
  • Portraits

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