Over 200 years since his birth, Abraham Lincoln remains as much a puzzle as he was to his contemporaries. That he came from nothing and was an obscure figure, almost to the moment of his nomination for the presidency, only adds to his mystery. His essential nature remains elusive, despite our best efforts to reveal the “real” Lincoln. Perhaps, though, that very mysteriousness is the key to his character and personality. Lincoln, with a supreme confidence in himself and an almost providential sense of his personal mission, was incredibly adroit in his ability to adapt to circumstances and shape events.

This poster exhibition, created for his 200th birthday, concentrates on presidential portraits to show the changing face that Abraham Lincoln presented to the world as he led the fight for the Union. Shaping himself to the uncertainties of the present, mindful of his role as the heir to the Founding Fathers, Lincoln led the nation where it never intended to go: from a political crisis over states’ rights to the revolutionary act of abolishing slavery. What is uncanny is how Lincoln moved toward this conclusion in public, before an audience fascinated and yet bewildered by the workings of an extraordinary mind.

Visit the exhibit site from the National Portrait Gallery to learn more.

The Mask of Lincoln portfolio was developed by the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. This portfolio was made possible by a grant from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee.

National Portrait Gallery
The mission of the National Portrait Gallery is to tell the story of America by portraying the people who shape the nation’s history, development and culture. Its collections present people of remarkable character and achievement. These Americans—artists, politicians, scientists, inventors, activists, and performers—form our national identity. They help us understand who we are and remind us of what we can aspire to be. For more information, visit npg.si.edu.

Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES)
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for over 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition descriptions and tour schedules, visit sites.si.edu.

SI Women’s Committee
The Smithsonian Women’s Committee celebrates fine American crafts through two signature events: the Smithsonian Craft Show and Craft2Wear. From the funds raised at these shows the Committee awards grants and endowments throughout the Smithsonian. For more information, visit swc.si.edu.