Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

For Immediate Release

Contact Information:
Stacy McCullough, Sprenger McCullough & Co., 816-221-9716, mobile: 913-927-0128
Bill Musgrave, Sprenger McCullough & Co., 816-221-9716, mobile: 816-215-4658
Edeen Martin, Truman Library & Museum, 816-268-8218
Jessica Olshen/Hannah Shay (Clifford P.R.) (212) 358-0800 ext. 27
Hamlet Paoletti (National Portrait Gallery) (202) 357-2866


February 2001- Kansas City, MO - The most famous collection in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery -- the presidential portraits -- arrives at the Truman Presidential Museum & Library in Independence, Missouri, on March 1, 2001. "Portraits of the Presidents from the National Portrait Gallery" -- sixty-one paintings, sculptures, photographs and other renderings, depicting 42 U.S. presidents from George Washington to Bill Clinton -- is touring the country for the first time, and will travel to several presidential libraries and museums. It will be in Independence, Missouri, until May 20, 2001.

The traveling exhibition is part of "Portrait of a Nation," an initiative which will have four major National Portrait Gallery exhibitions going on national and international tours for the next four years. (The National Portrait Gallery is closed to the public until 2004 due to major renovation work being done to the landmark Old Patent Office Building, in Washington, D.C. where it is located.)

Selected from among the museum's 1,200 presidential likenesses, "Portraits of the Presidents" includes such richly diverse images as: Rembrandt Peale's "porthole" portrait of George Washington; a likeness of Thomas Jefferson done for John Adams as a token of their friendship; an in situ depiction of Zachary Taylor during the Mexican War, that was used to promote his presidential candidacy; one of the last photographic images of Abraham Lincoln, by Alexander Gardner; photographer George Tames's famous silhouetted image of John Kennedy in the Oval Office; and Chuck Close's oversized iris print of Bill Clinton.

"Many of these portraits -- Jefferson as minister to France, FDR at the end of his presidency -- are linked to historical moments," says exhibition curator and National Portrait Gallery senior historian Frederick Voss. "One of the main things I hope visitors gain from this exhibition is a lively sense of these moments and the personalities behind them."

"Portraits of the Presidents" also sheds light on the traditions and challenges of presidential portraiture. George Washington was so inundated by requests to paint him that he came to view artists the way today's movie stars view the paparazzi. Andrew Jackson, facing the same problem, invited his favorite portrait artist to live in the White House. And Norman Rockwell frankly admitted that he flattered Nixon's "troublesomely elusive face" because he wanted the portrait to go "in a positive direction."

The Truman Presidential Museum & Library is scheduled to re-open its doors on March 1, 2001 as the first phase of a major $22.5 million renovation. The museum will feature new temporary and permanent exhibits including the new White House Decision Center, an interactive program for high school students scheduled to open in the Fall of 2001. The Truman Presidential Museum & Library is located at US 24 Highway and Delaware Street in Independence, Missouri. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9:00am - 5:00pm, Sunday from noon - 5:00pm and open until 9:00pm on Thursdays. For more information call 1-800-833-1225 or visit the web site at www.trumanlibrary.org.

For more information on "Portraits of the Presidents" and on the other traveling exhibitions comprising the National Portrait Gallery's "Portrait of a Nation" initiative, please call (212) 358-0800 or (202) 357-2866.

The Harry S. Truman Library is one of ten Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

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