Skip to comments.“One Life: Ronald Reagan” Opens at National Portrait Gallery
Posted on 07/01/2011 9:15:42 AM PDT by iowamark
A senior historian at the National Portrait Gallery, Sidney Hart is interested in consequential people and in better understanding who they are and where they come from. Since the gallery reopened in the summer of 2006 after a six-year long renovation, it has been hosting a One Life series, each exhibition focused around an American personality. Today, One Life: Ronald Reagan opens to the public. (Newspaper publisher Katherine Graham was the last to be featured.)
The gallery has over 70 portraits of Reagan in its collections, and at the centennial of his birth, says the National Portrait Gallerys director, Martin Sullivan, Reagan seemed a natural subject. One Life: Ronald Reagan chronicles the Gippers path through, essentially, six careersas sports announcer, actor, union leader, corporate spokesman, governor of California and 40th president of the United States. Sullivan hopes that the exhibition gives visitors some insight into the personality traits that brought him success and made him such a mesmerizing and sometimes polarizing figure.
Among the pieces included in the exhibition are a photograph of Reagan as a WHO radio announcer in Des Moines, Iowa, in the mid-1930s and some movie memorabilia from Knute Rockne, All American (1940) and Kings Row (1942), which Reagan considered his best film. There is a photograph of a grinning Reagan visiting a General Electric plant in Danville, Illinois, in 1955, during his stint as a corporate ambassador for the General Electric Co., and another of his victory celebration when he won the bid for California governor in 1966. The majority of the small gallery space is devoted to Reagans political career. One photograph illustrates the chaos outside the Washington Hilton Hotel just after the assassination attempt there in 1981, and two others were taken during meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986 and 1987. In addition to portraits, a piece of the Berlin wall and the border fence, or Iron Curtain, and a handwritten page of the speech Reagan delivered to the nation after meeting with Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1986, are on display.
An attention-grabbing 1985 work by Andy Warhol plays off of Reagans nickname, the Teflon president, which Democratic congresswoman Patricia Schroeder had given him because no negative criticism seemed to stick to him. In the screen print, the pop artist casts Reagan in a circa-1953 advertisement for wrinkle-free Van Heusen Century shirts.
At the entrance to the exhibition is a curators statement, written by Hart. In it, he explains how when he gives tours of the National Portrait Gallerys hall of American Presidents (and he gave us one on election day 2008), he is often asked to rate the presidents. He prefers to instead discuss their significance. The difficulty in doing so, though, is that usually a presidents significance isnt known until about 50 years after his terms. However, with some presidentsWashington, Jackson, Lincoln, the two Roosevelts and Ronald ReaganI think we know immediately, he writes. Their tenure was consequential and transformational. When Reagan was elected president, pundits worried that the office had become too overwhelming for one person to handle. When he left office, I believe that view was refuted.
One Life: Ronald Reagan opens today and will continue through May 28, 2012.
Speaking for Barry Goldwater, 1964
Ronald Reagan is the soul of America.
I feel so blessed to have grown up when he was president.
When I see pictures of him, when I listen to his speeches, and I must say that his are the only speeches from any politician that I listen to, I nothing but love and pride for America.
God Bless Ronald Reagan.
The “party” is over....
Can the Smithsonian not afford a proof reader? Reagan spoke across the “estate” of CA for Goldwater? In another spot a period is peculiarly dropped in the middle of a sentence.
So Illinois is really more The Land Of Reagan, than The Land Of Lincoln, which is our Official State Motto.
But one thing's for sure. We AIN'T 'the land of Barry O'Blooper'(1). Hawaii had him, and they can keep him when he's gone.
(1) Since Barry's been POTUS, he's spent more time golfing that he did in Chi or IL :-)
I was watching a little highlight show on the SPEED channel last night about the 1984 4th of July Grand National race at Daytona. Richard Petty’s 200th win highlighted by Ronald Reagan flying in, mid-race, on Air Force One.
They showed the clips of the plane landing with the race in the foreground and current interviews with the drivers talking about how exciting it was to see the plane out their windows as they were doing 200mph down the back stretch.
They showed the clips of the President in the booth calling a few laps and the post-race interview when Richard Petty, with his car still on the track, skipped the Winner’s Circle, and got out, literally running up the track, climbing over the wall, and running through the crowd up to the announcer’s booth to meet and greet the President.
I recall watching the race on TV and it was, quite simply, a wonderful moment in time.