The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is taking part in the commemorations for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the presidency of Abraham Lincoln with a series of seven related exhibitions. The exhibitions will complement the installation of Civil War portraits and related objects that are on display in the museum’s “American Origins,” exhibition which charts the nation's story from pre-colonial days through the end of the nineteenth century. Beginning with “The Death of Ellsworth,” which opened in April 2011, the museum will focus on another story of the Civil War each year of the commemoration, ending with a major retrospective about the photography of Alexander Gardner. Accompanied by ongoing stellar educational programs, weekly blog entries, podcasts and videos written and produced by experts on Civil War topics, these exhibitions look to enlighten our visitors with some familiar—and forgotten—stories about the Civil War.


Mathew Brady’s Photographs of Union Generals
(March 30, 2012, through May 2015)

Bound for Freedom’s Light: African Americans and the Civil War
(Feb. 1, 2013, through March 2, 2014)

Washington During the Civil War
(Dec. 13, 2013, through Jan. 25, 2015)

Grant and Lee
(March 14, 2014, through April 19, 2015)

Alexander Gardner
(October 31, 2014, through May 3, 2015)

American Origins, 1600-1900
(Permanent exhibition)


View a selection of Civil War portraits  from the collections of the National Portrait Gallery

View more than 2,000 artifacts from the Civil War collections of the Smithsonian Institution

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ATLANTIC magazine Several Civil War-themed publications are available from the National Portrait Gallery bookstore or online.

View a complete list



Portrait in a Minute: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Portrait in a Minute:Jefferson Davis

Portrait in a Minute:Stonewall Jackson

Portrait of John Pelham: Confederate artillery officer, Civil War

The Battle of Fredericksburg

Walt Whitman and the Patent Office Building, Civil War

Ambrose Burnside and the 1st R.I. at Camp Sprague, 1861

Lincoln's Beard: An Interview with Historian David Ward

The Life Masks of Lincoln

  These and other videos are available on YouTube.




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