Plaster sculpture of George Washington
George Washington by Jean-Antoine Houdon / c. 1786, Plaster / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; partial gift of Joe L. & Barbara B. Albritton and Robert H. & Clarice Smith

America’s Presidents Temporary Installation

March 24, 2017 - September 4, 2017
Second floor

While the regular gallery space is being refurbished and updated, “America’s Presidents” will be temporarily installed in the west gallery on the second floor through Sept. 4. The exhibition will move back into the newly refreshed gallery spaces and reopen Sept. 22.

We are excited to announce that the temporary installation will include “Hindsight is Always 20/20” by contemporary artist Luke DuBois. DuBois has generated “word clouds” with words and phrases from the state of the union addresses of 41 presidents. He then presents them in order of most frequent to least frequent word in the form of an eye chart for each president.

The result is a startlingly clear snapshot of the lexicon of each presidency, containing a mix of key words and rhetoric unique to each president and the time period in which they served. The words amplify the story that we tell about the presidents by highlighting how the issues of the day became part of Americans’ political dialogue and vocabulary. The installation will allow us to marry words with images in a way that is both educational and aesthetically appealing.

  • View of the exhibition, ohrases from state of the union addresses in the foreground

    View of "America’s Presidents Temporary Installation." Photo by Elise Mollica.

  • View of the exhibition, presidential portraits in the gallery

    View of "America’s Presidents Temporary Installation." Photo by Elise Mollica.

  • View of the exhibition, presidential portraits in the gallery

    View of "America’s Presidents Temporary Installation." Photo by Elise Mollica.

  • View of the exhibition entrance, with George Washington and Bill Clinton portraits

    View of "America’s Presidents Temporary Installation." Photo by Elise Mollica.

  • iew of the exhibition, presidential portraits in the gallery

    View of "America’s Presidents Temporary Installation." Photo by Elise Mollica.

  • View of the exhibition, ohrases from state of the union addresses in the foreground

    View of "America’s Presidents Temporary Installation." Photo by Elise Mollica.