About

The Congressional Institute is proud to sponsor the Congressional Art Competition. The annual competition celebrates the artistic achievements of the nation’s high school students. Each Member of Congress may choose to host the program in their individual districts. Many offices ask a panel of local artists, such as artists-in-residence, art teachers, gallery owners, to act as judges. The winning artwork will hang in the Cannon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol for one year. The tunnel is the most highly traveled access point between the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Capitol. Every day, Members of Congress, distinguished visitors, and tens of thousands of tourists – from the United States and abroad – walk through the tunnel and admire the artwork.

The competition is now in its 38th year. Each year, a Republican and Democratic Member of the House are selected to serve as Co-Chairs. The 2019 competition was co-chaired by Rep. French Hill (R-AR) and Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ). The competition is truly bipartisan, and one of the highlights of the congressional calendar.

At the beginning of the summer, the Office of the Architect of the Capitol begins the process of removing the previous year’s winners and displaying the new pieces to be showcased. That work takes place over the course of about a month. Each picture is carefully hung and labeled with the name of the artist, the title of the work, and the congressional district. The artwork is organized alphabetically by state and then numerically by district. The previous year’s winning pieces are returned to each congressional office, and many choose to continue he art in either Washington, DC, or a district office.

The Congressional Institute has sponsored the art competition since 2009. Each congressional office is responsible for getting the winning artwork to Washington, DC, and the Congressional Institute facilitates the process of handing the pieces over to the Architect’s Office for hanging. The Institute also oversees the annual awards ceremony, which features a prominent artist from the district of each congressional co-chair. The winning artist from each district is invited to attend the awards ceremony with one parent or guardian. It is their first opportunity to see their artwork displaying in the Cannon Tunnel.

Congressional Institute President Mark Strand said this about the competition:

The Congressional Institute is very proud to sponsor the Congressional Art Competition, which celebrates the enormous talent and cultural contributions of American high school students. What I love most are the more than 400 individual stories of these kids who will come to Washington, DC, to celebrate winning the competition in their districts. Tens of thousands of student artists participate every year, and each Member of Congress can only pick one winner, although some Members find creative ways to celebrate the runner-up artist. The amazing thing is that each of the winning pictures get to hang in the United States Capitol Building for a year. This is an incredible honor as millions of tourists will get to see their work – something that might otherwise never happen for students from every walk of American life. Putting these students first is one way to show there are some things that even the most partisan politician can put above politics and celebrate along with their colleagues in both parties.

High school students must enter the competition for the congressional district in which they live. If you do not know your Member of Congress, go here and use the Find My Representative tool in the upper right corner.