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National Portrait Gallery Celebrates Centennial of John F. Kennedy’s Birth With Installation and Evening Event

May 2, 2017

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery joins the nationwide celebration of the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy on the centennial of his birth, illuminating his contributions, policies and challenges he feared in the wake of the civil rights era and present. A pastel portrait of Kennedy by Shirley Seltzer Cooper will go on view in the museum’s “Celebrate” space May 19 through July 9. Media are invited for an open house to view and photograph the portrait Friday, May 19, at 11:30 a.m. 

Kennedy will also be the topic of this year’s “America Now” event series Saturday, June 17, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. in the Kogod Courtyard, with commissioned music by Citizen Cope and Alice Smith focusing on justice and freedom. Visitors can enjoy the sounds of blues, soul, folk and rock music and sip summer cocktails, wine and beer in the museum’s indoor courtyard with light snacks.

“America Now” is a museum collaboration with three Smithsonian museums: the National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of American History and Smithsonian American Art Museum. It is made possible by the support of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Family Foundation.

In 1960 Kennedy, then a senator from Massachusetts, defeated opponent Richard Nixon to become the 35 and the youngest elected president. The country was entranced by his charisma, his stylish wife, Jackie and their two small children—the first young family to live in the White House since Theodore Roosevelt 60 years before. Kennedy’s agenda promised new opportunities in an age of accelerating challenges. Yet his initiatives and reforms for containing the Cold War, increasing civil rights and exploring space never came to fruition during his presidency, which was curtailed by an assassin’s bullet. Still, his legacy lives on in such programs as the Peace Corps and space exploration when, in 1969, Americans walked on the moon.

An image of his portrait by Seltzer Cooper is available for press at newsdesk.si.edu; it can also be photographed or filmed in the museum. 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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