Black and white photo of Babe Ruth and other Red Sox pitchers, all in their baseball uniforms

Babe Ruth and other Red Sox pitchers by Underwood & Underwood (active 1880 - c. 1950) / Gelatin paper print, 1915 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

One Life: Babe Ruth

June 24, 2016 - May 21, 2017
First floor

This exhibition examines Babe Ruth as a baseball legend and the marketing frenzy his name and image fueled before the commercialization of sports superstars became routine.  Related themes focus on star power in an age before electronic mass media and the use of portraiture in advertising.

The photographic record alone is astonishing. Ruth was arguably the most portrayed American from the beginning of his professional career in the major leagues, in 1914, to his death in 1948. No president, Hollywood star, or athlete so enjoyed the limelight for as long as Babe Ruth. In one news column or another, he appeared in the papers every week. 

The exhibition will include approximately forty objects, from prints and photographs of Ruth, both in and out of his New York Yankees uniform, to personal paraphernalia, and advertising memorabilia endorsed by Ruth. The show will conclude with a look at a few of baseball’s greats—Hank Aaron, Roger Maris, and Whitey Ford—who chased and broke one or more of the Babe’s long-standing records.  Historian James Barber curates this exhibition.

This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of the Chapman Hanson Foundation and the Guenther and Siewchin Yong Sommer Endowment.

  • Babe Ruth

    View of "One Life: Babe Ruth." Photo by Matailong Du.

  • Babe Ruth

    View of "One Life: Babe Ruth." Photo by Matailong Du.

  • Babe Ruth

    View of "One Life: Babe Ruth." Photo by Matailong Du.

  • Babe Ruth

    View of "One Life: Babe Ruth." Photo by Matailong Du.

  • Babe Ruth

    View of "One Life: Babe Ruth." Photo by Matailong Du.