National Portrait Gallery and The Atlantic Announce “Perspectives: The Atlantic’s Writers at the National Portrait Gallery”

Special multi-platform collaboration to premiere July 1

The Atlantic's Writers at the National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and The Atlantic announce a new, multi-platform collaboration titled Perspectives: The Atlantic’s Writers at the National Portrait Gallery.” As part of the reinstallation of the museum’s permanent-collection galleries, the Portrait Gallery and The Atlantic will highlight a selection of the country’s founding voices in literature, politics, philosophy, and culture with interpretive wall texts written by The Atlantic’s contemporary writers and editors. The project will premiere in person and online beginning July 1 with the reopening of the museum’s “Out of Many: Portraits from 1600 to 1900” exhibition, and it will coincide with the magazine’s 165th anniversary year.

The collaboration will present commentary from The Atlantic’s writers reflecting on the work and legacy of prior Atlantic contributors whose portraits are on view at the museum, such as Louisa May Alcott, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., and John Lewis. The new wall texts, written by The Atlantic’s journalists, will draw connections between the magazine’s historic focus on abolition, its current engagement with social justice and civil rights, and the museum’s many portraits of diverse activists. Also included will be the likenesses of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, three of the founders who established The Atlantic in Boston in 1857.

Visitors will be able to experience these portraits at the museum or virtually through an online tour, available now, complete with audio descriptions read by each author. Beginning July 1, eight portraits will be on view in “Out of Many: Portraits from 1600 to 1900” on the Portrait Gallery’s first floor, with five others installed in the museum’s second- and third-floor galleries. The online tour includes the 13 artworks on view in the museum alongside additional portraits for the project’s full suite of more than 20 sitters and a project video. Other newly interpreted portraits will be installed throughout the museum in the coming years.

“History is always changing and evolving depending on who holds the pen,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “It’s a pleasure to collaborate with The Atlantic’s writers for their perspective on these historic figures.”

The Atlantic has been central to the intellectual, cultural, and political life of our country for 165 years,” said Jeffrey Goldberg, the magazine’s editor in chief. “Our partners at the National Portrait Gallery have performed a great service by highlighting our writers and their contributions to the progress of the American experiment.”

“Perspectives: The Atlantic’s Writers at the National Portrait Gallery” is the latest endeavor between the museum and The Atlantic. The two entities will also collaborate on public programs in the coming year, and the Portrait Gallery will host writers on Season 4 of the museum’s PORTRAITS podcast.

“Out of Many: Portraits from 1600 to 1900” is sponsored by Ann S. and Samuel M. Mencoff and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Portraits to be on display as of July 1

Sitters & The Atlantic Writers

Louisa May Alcott & Adrienne LaFrance, executive editor
Frederick Douglass & George Packer, staff writer
Ralph Waldo Emerson & Vann R. Newkirk II, senior editor
Nathaniel Hawthorne & Ann Hulbert, literary editor
Julia Ward Howe & Anna Deavere Smith, contributing writer
Martin Luther King Jr. & Peter Wehner, contributing writer
John Lewis & Ibram X. Kendi, contributing writer
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow & Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief
A. Philip Randolph & Caitlin Dickerson, staff writer
Carl Sandburg & Anne Applebaum, staff writer
Harriet Beecher Stowe & Drew Gilpin Faust, contributing writer
Harry S. Truman & Yoni Appelbaum, deputy editor
Booker T. Washington & Adam Harris, staff writer

National Portrait Gallery
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the nation’s story.

The National Portrait Gallery is located at Eighth and G Streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

The Atlantic
Since 1857, The Atlantic has been a magazine of ideas—a home to the best writers and boldest minds, who bring clarity and original thinking to the most important issues of the current times. Through its journalism, it aims to help its readers better understand the world and its possibilities as they navigate the complexities of daily life. Record audiences and numbers of subscribers have turned to The Atlantic’s exacting coverage of the pandemic and its consequences, of threats to global democracy and issues of race and inequity. Jeffrey Goldberg is The Atlantic’s editor in chief; Nick Thompson is the CEO. The Atlantic earned the top honor for magazines, General Excellence, at the 2022 National Magazine Awards.

Press Contacts:
Concetta Duncan | National Portrait Gallery

Anna Bross | The Atlantic

Credits of Portraits Above: “Harry S. Truman, 1884–1972,” by Jay Wesley Jacobs / “Louisa May Alcott, 1832–1888.” Cast after: Frank Edwin Elwell; Foundry: Roman Bronze Works Inc. / “Richard Wright, 1908–1960,” by Carl Van Vechten / “Julia Ward Howe, 1819–1910,” begun by John Elliott; finished by William Henry Cotton / “Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807–1882,” by Thomas Buchanan Read / “Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) 1835–1910,” by John White Alexander / “Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804–1864,” by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze / “Frederick Douglass, 1818–1895,” by Unidentified Artist / “Booker T. Washington, 1856–1919.” Cast after: Richmond Barthé; Foundry: Modern Art Foundry.