American Memory: Commemoration, Nostalgia, and Revision

Collection Galleries
Chapter 1: People and Identity | Mid-July
Chapter 2: Activism and Terrorism | Mid-July
Chapter 3: Responses and Revisions | Late September

The narratives about the history of our young nation are often told from a single perspective. The experiences of women, people of color, and LGBTQI+ individuals (to use the current term) were rarely considered in the course of documenting historical events, and the incidents that impacted them most were frequently ignored, skewed, or outright erased. American Memory: Commemoration, Nostalgia, and Revision exposes this selective editing of history as it seeks to relate the true price of pursuing the American dream.

The exhibition is divided into three chapters, across three galleries: “People and Identity” explores the nature of portraiture; “Activism and Terrorism” studies the normalization of racist, violent imagery; and “Responses and Revisions” shows how a single image can shape our perception of history. The more than twenty prints, drawings, paintings, and photographs in American Memory are from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and contemporary times and reveal a more complicated view of past events. The works are drawn from the Museum’s collection, directing a lens, as well, on the history of how certain works came to be at the Museum.

  • Kerry James Marshall, Memento, 1996–97. Color lithograph with gold powder on paper, image: 30¼ × 43¼ in., sheet: 30¼ × 44 in. Gift in memory of Robert D. and Eleanore A. Hesselbrock by their children, M2000.5. Photo by John R. Glembin. © Kerry James Marshall