the washington DC portrait gallery and how it seriously needs to get its act together

After discussing today the idea behind earning your PhD and thus being considered a “scholar”, there seems to be a general consensus that this term reflects not only mastering your field of study but also being familiar with various other fields of knowledge in order to be considered a well-educated human being in which you are being labeled.

I recalled the time when I visited my bestie who lives in DC and we went the National Portrait Gallery. Let’s face it, when you walk around museums, you definitely feel super cultured and super in touch with the modern world.



It was actually quite lovely and not crammed with manic children running around everywhere, but I have one serious complaint.

Of the 21,200 pieces of artwork in the museum’s collection (ranging from George Washington to Colin Powell to Dennis Rodman), there are exactly FIVE portraits of scientists (and this is if you are considering JJ Audubon a scientist (which I do) but I am sure there are some who would debate). Now if this is not one of the most pathetic things you have ever heard, then I suppose we may not idealize the same types of people. However, as I do tend to look up to many scientists in both past and present, it was a little heart-wrenching to scour a place overflowing with “national heroes” and hardly lay eyes upon any familiar faces. Having a portrait painted of oneself reflects that one is worth remembering and this massive under representation of those who have contributed great work to our understanding of the world makes me sad. To shame!

[Note:] I apologize if I am underestimating. I could have very well missed some very obvious ones.

So who were the lucky few? Could you guess? Let’s see…


called it

Two over-celebrated celebrated biologists (although, I can’t roll my eyes too much because the level of cheesiness going on in both make up for any objection):


E.O. Wilson…holding ants on a tiny log


the crotchety James Watson

This was the only one of five that remotely impressed me:


Charles Richard Drew, we need more people like you :]

And good, ol’ Mr. Audubon (I really would like to throw in the word dashing, but I just don’t think I can):

Well, there you have it folks: how our nation would like to display and honor the scientific achievement and contribution of those hardworking souls over the last few centuries. Also, none of which are women.

Top three living scientists that need to go sit and be painted and have their portraits added immediately:

[1] Craig Venter (I would say the degree of cheesiness as portrayed in Wilson and Watson would probably not raise any complaints)
[2] Jane Gooddall
[3] Stephen Hawking

People I don’t vote for: Neil deGrasse Tyson (as his portrait is already pretty unforgettable) and Richard Dawkins (he is already way too into himself (as is Craig Venter but Venter is kind of a baller).

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