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John Glenn’s Portrait on View at the National Portrait Gallery

December 9, 2016

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery celebrates the accomplishments of astronaut and Senator John Glenn with a watercolor and graphite portrait by Henry C. Caselli Jr. The sketch, made from life in 1998, depicts Glenn in a moment of reflection before the launch of the space shuttle Discovery for its nine-day mission in 1988; it made him the oldest astronaut to reach space at the age of 77. The portrait will be installed in the museum’s In Memoriam space on the first floor and will be on view beginning at 11:30 a.m. today. 

A military pilot who distinguished himself in World War II and the Korean War, Glenn came to widespread public attention as one of the Mercury Seven, the original group of astronauts chosen to participate in the American effort to explore outer space. In 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. Retiring from the space program two years later, he participated in a number of successful business ventures and in 1974 was elected as a senator from his native Ohio; he served four consecutive terms. For the next several decades, he became one of the Senate’s most respected and influential members. 

An image of the portrait is available for press at newsdesk.si.edu; it can also be photographed or filmed in the museum. The museum has eight portraits of Glenn in its collection. For access, contact Marielba Alvarez at alvarezma@si.edu.

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of America through the individuals who have shaped its culture. Through 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 American story. 

The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Website: npg.si.edu. Connect with the museum at Facebook; Instagram; blog; Twitter and YouTube. 

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