The Atlantic’s Writers at the National Portrait Gallery
History is always changing and evolving depending on who holds the pen.
-- Kim Sajet, Director, National Portrait Gallery
In 1857, a group of writers gathered in Boston to launch a magazine, The Atlantic, that would serve as a strong voice against slavery while also covering politics, literature, science, and the arts. Over time, The Atlantic widened its focus beyond abolition to include racial justice and civil rights more broadly. Many of The Atlantic’s celebrated authors are represented in the National Portrait Gallery, whose mission is to tell the story of the United States through the people who have influenced the nation’s history, development, and culture. “Perspectives: The Atlantic’s Writers at the National Portrait Gallery” is a multi-phased, multi-platform collaboration between the museum and the magazine that explores the history of racial and social justice in the United States from the nineteenth century to the present day.
Explore Perspectives with twenty-three contemporary Atlantic writers.
>> Begin the tour here
A virtual tour available online features portraits of significant figures in literature, politics, philosophy, and culture who have contributed to The Atlantic during its long history. Each portrait is accompanied by the voiced commentary of a contemporary Atlantic writer reflecting on the life and legacy of a historical influencer (such as Louisa May Alcott, Frederick Douglass, and Booker T. Washington) or a more recent figure (such as Martin Luther King, Jr. or John Lewis). Through portraiture, biography, and interpretation, the virtual tour highlights individuals who have helped shape the trajectory from abolition to the civil rights era and contemporary social justice movements.