Pictures that tell the (hi)story!

November 20, 2007

found at this site…

 Pictures Tell the (Hi)Story

By Samuel Crawford Jr.

October 15, 2007  

           This past Saturday I went to the National Portraits Gallery, this museum I had read about but had never been to before.  I mainly wanted to go because of the collection of Presidential portraits that I thought would be interesting to see.  I had researched the museum and its galleries; and discovered that not only is the collection inside the building, some of America’s most historical artifacts, but the building itself is one of Washington DC’s first three buildings made, that was open to the public.  The building chosen to house the Hall of Presidents and their history has a history of its own.  It was built third after two of the most important buildings in Washington DC, the White House and the National Capitol.

           The National Portraits Gallery building is actually the site of two museums that are comprised into one. The National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum are located together in one of Washington’s oldest public buildings, a Historic Landmark that had its cornerstone laid in 1836, and would become the U.S. Patent Office in 1840.  The museum however opened in 1968 and has gone through much change and renovation since.  (History is according to the National Portrait Gallery website museum information, (

           The great thing about the two museums is the various exhibitions that they have on display.  There is literally something for everybody, whether you like history, black history, revolutionary war, Civil War, Cold War, Civil Rights, sports, music, sculptures, antic furniture, they got it and more.  I saw images of Harriet Tubman, Sequoyah, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, Pocahontas, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, The Presidents and so many other people, that I could not list them all.

           After an hour or so, I finally arrived at the Hall of Presidents.  This gallery is still relatively new; after a period of building renovation, the exhibit opened on July 1, 2006.  The exhibit was right in time for the Independence Day celebration.Entering the Hall of Presidents I could feel in the air, a sense of dignity and respect.  Not that it was demanded, but was freely offered by all that entered.  Though we may not have agreed with or even liked certain presidents; there was still a respect that was even offered to them.  Some of the cartoon drawings of the presidents and their nicknames that they were given, made me laugh.  We had a “Card Board messiah”, “Tricky Dicky”, “Dutch”, “Slick Willie”, “The Gipper”, “the Teflon President”, “Honest Abe”, “Teddy” and well the list goes on. These certainly caused the seriousness of the exhibit to be relaxed.  The atmosphere was amazing, it was like I was meeting the presidents; the pictures were so real, the history was told and their lives shared. 

           What sticks out the most about the Hall of Presidents is that there was a unity and respect about the place.  Even though a president may have gotten into trouble, been impeached, had controversial issues surrounding his presidency and other diverse situations; they were all still honored for who they were, A President of the United States of America!  There were no exclusions, no excuses or apologies for, or rejections of any president!

           If all of the citizens and politicians of the United States of America could achieve what this Gallery has, we would be the most influential and respected nation in the world.  We have what it takes to be a greater nation than what we are; we are the home of the free!  Yet, our freedom has caused us to become divided; everyone wants individual rights, some things are right and some things are wrong, a legalization of this or that; “give me this and give me that”, “I’m right and your not” and it does not seem to stop.  Our politicians have their smear campaigns, the news agencies have no shame, telling American’s secrets to whomever they can, gangs, drugs and so much more, flood the ears of the world.   

           America is a great country that has been founded on a great belief system, a nation for the people, by the people and of the people, and we have since divided ourselves into separate, politically correct categorical citizens!  Before we were a nation, we were UNITED immigrants (Colonists)!  Before we had our freedom, we UNITED to take a stand! Before we had a president, we had a UNITED nation!  Before we became the United States of America, we were a people UNDIVIDED!  I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.   (The pledge of allegiance history can be found here; 

           Before we see America’s destruction, we must look back at America’s (Hi)Story; that which made it so great.  Where is the best place to start?  How about the National Portraits Gallery!  Let US take a good look at the pictures and see what we see! Let’s start in the colonial times, then onto the revolution, the Civil War, The Emancipation Proclamation, The Civil Rights, on and on and finally end in the Hall of Presidents. If we look and if we answer in all honesty, we will find that in the nation’s (Hi)Story, we can see; AMERICAN’S standing together in UNITY!  These pictures are not ordinary and have much meaning, they have a specific reason for being, and they are…                                         

                                                                               Pictures that tell the (Hi)Story!       

           If you want to make plans to go to the museum, this website will be helpful in assisting you in the decisions you make on where to go and what to see;  The museum is located at Eighth and First St. NW 20001.  The Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station is conveniently located by the museum if you choose to travel by Metro.  The hours of this museum vary from the others; they are open every day, except Christmas Day, from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.  Most of your other museums open at 9:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. and close at 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 


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