1968: Telling the Story of a Year

Nineteen sixty-eight was a year to remember months before it ever reached a climactic ending. Fifty years later we are still remembering the succession of events that defined an era and shaped the nation. The Portrait Gallery’s one room exhibition, “One Year, 1968: An American Odyssey” explores this tumultuous year through the lives of some thirty disparate newsmakers. The images herein are samples from the show and focus on such major themes as the war in Vietnam, civil rights and racial unrest, pop culture, sports, politics, and the Apollo 8 lunar mission. The exhibit is on view now through May 19, 2019.


Martin Luther King and Shirley Chisholm
Left: Martin Luther King announces the “Poor People’s Campaign.” Felled by an assassin, King never lived to see the campaign’s march to Washington in June. 
Martin Luther King, Jr. / George Tames / Chromogenic print, 1968 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Frances O. Tames / © George Tames/The New York Times/Redux
Right: In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American woman to be elected to the U. S. House of Representatives.
Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm / Richard Avedon / Gelatin silver print, 1976 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Acquisition made possible by generous contributions from Jeane W. Austin and the James Smithson Society


Tommie Smith and John Carlos | Jimi Hendrix
Left: Olympic runners, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, stand on the awards podium at the summer games in Mexico City.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos Unidentified artist, 1968 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired through the generosity of David C. Ward
Right: Rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix was named artist of the year by Rolling Stone and Billboard magazines.
Jimi Hendrix / Unidentified artist / Color photolithographic poster on paper / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution


Earth from space and graphical art of a pointed gun
Left: At year’s end, Apollo 8 astronauts, William Anders, Frank Borman, and James Lovell, successfully orbited the moon
Earthrise / William Anders / Photo enlargement / December 24, 1968 / Courtesy NASA
Right: The Gun in America appeared on the cover of Time magazine, June 21, 1968, in response to the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
Gun in America / Roy Lichtenstein / Screenprint on acetate, 1968 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine / © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein