1898: U.S. Imperial Visions and Revisions

April 28, 2023 - February 25, 2024
3/4 length painting of a man with a moustache  in a black suit
Theodore Roosevelt, John Singer Sargent, 1903, oil on canvas, White House Collection / White House Historical Association

First Major Smithsonian Exhibition to Examine the U.S. Intervention in Cuba and U.S. Expansion into Guam, Hawaiʻi, Puerto Rico and the Philippines

This is the first major Smithsonian museum exhibition to examine the War of 1898 (often called the Spanish-American War), the Congressional Joint Resolution to annex Hawai‘i (July 1898), the Philippine-American War (1899–1913) and the legacy of this controversial chapter in history. Through the lens of portraiture and visual culture, this exhibition of more than 90 objects presents the perspectives of those who advocated for overseas expansion, those who opposed it and those who tried to have agency over their political futures when the United States brought Cuba, Guam, Hawai‘i, Puerto Rico and the Philippines into its sphere of power.

“1898: U.S. Imperial Visions and Revisions” is co-curated by Taína Caragol, curator of painting, sculpture and Latino art and history, and Kate Clarke Lemay, historian, with assistance from Carolina Maestre, curatorial assistant for Latino art and history. 

View the comprehensive website, featuring exhibition portraits, interactive components and educational resources. The website is available in English and Spanish.

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"1898: U.S. Imperial Visions and Revisions" has been made possible with support from the following:

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Ann S. and Samuel M. Mencoff
Luis A. Miranda, Jr., the Miranda Family Foundation
Terra Foundation for American Art
Ann E. Roulet, Laura Roulet, and Rafael Hernández
Kate Kelly and George Schweitzer
Gretchen Sierra-Zorita and Peter B. Hutt II
M. Salomé Galib and Duane McLaughlin

Mellon logo            miranda logo         Terra foundation logo   

This exhibition received Federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center and the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

catalogue cover

Available in the Museum Shop,
Sept. 1, 2023

Available for pre-order from:

Exhibition Catalogue

1898: Visual Culture and U.S. Imperialism in the Caribbean and the Pacific 

by Taína Caragol, Kate Clarke Lemay and Carolina Maestre

In 1898, the United States seized territories overseas, ushering in an era of expansion that was at odds with the nation’s founding promise of freedom and democracy for all. This book draws on portraiture and visual culture to provide fresh perspectives on this crucial yet underappreciated period in history.

Taína Caragol and Kate Clarke Lemay tell the story of 1898 by bringing together portraits of U.S. figures who favored overseas expansion, such as William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, with those of leading figures who resisted colonization, including Eugenio María de Hostos of Puerto Rico; José Martí of Cuba; Felipe Agoncillo of the Philippines; Padre José Torres Palomo of Guam; and Queen Lili‘uokalani of Hawai‘i. Throughout the book, Caragol and Lemay also look at landscapes, naval scenes, and ephemera. They consider works of art by important period artists Winslow Homer and Armando García Menocal as well as contemporary artists such as Maia Cruz Palileo, Stephanie Syjuco, and Miguel Luciano. Paul A. Kramer’s essay addresses the role of the Smithsonian Institution in supporting imperialism, and texts by Jorge Duany, Theodore S. Gonzalves, Kristin L. Hoganson, Healoha Johnston, and Neil Weare offer critical perspectives by experts with close personal or scholarly relations to the island regions.

Beautifully illustrated, 1898: Visual Culture and U.S. Imperialism in the Caribbean and the Pacific challenges us to reconsider the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, and the annexation of Hawai‘i while shedding needed light on the lasting impacts of U.S. imperialism.

Published in association with the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC