Block by Block: Naming Washington

July 30, 2021 - October 22, 2023
waist length photo of a woman in a dark dress
Clara Barton by Mathew B. Brady / c. 1865, Albumen silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired through the generosity of Elizabeth A. Hylton

Exhibition Explores the People Represented by  Washington, D.C.’s Streets and Public Spaces

The National Portrait Gallery will explore the namesakes of Washington, D.C.’s streets, avenues, neighborhoods and other public spaces in the new exhibition “Block by Block: Naming Washington.” Featuring reproductions of 16 portraits, drawn mostly from the museum’s collection, the exhibition will present the faces and biographies behind some of the city’s most familiar locations, introducing visitors to those whose names are part of the nation’s capital. “Block by Block,” curated by the National Portrait Gallery’s curator of photographs, Leslie Ureña, will be on view in the museum’s second-floor Riley Gallery July 30 to Jan. 16, 2023.

“The naming of streets and places creates a living history, connecting past to present,” Ureña said. “There is little doubt that naming a public space after a historical figure, in the nation’s capital no less, grants a degree of importance to those whose names have been chosen and, at times, evokes a reckoning with some of those eponyms and the legacies they leave behind. I hope ‘Block by Block’ prompts visitors to not only see D.C. a little differently, but also to approach the streets and spaces in their own communities with a renewed sense of curiosity.”

Online Exhibit

two views of an exhibition