Forces of Nature: Voices that Shaped Environmentalism

October 20, 2023 – September 2, 2024
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Julie Packard by Hope Gangloff Acrylic on Canvas, 2019. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; funded by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Board of Trustees. Copyright Hope Gangloff

National Portrait Gallery
8th and G Streets, NW
Washington, DC

2nd Floor, Corridor

See on Map Floor Plan

Forces of Nature: Voices that Shaped Environmentalism presents some of the key people—scientists, politicians, activists, writers, and artists—whose work has influenced attitudes toward the environment in the United States from the late 19th century until today. The exhibition traces a history of the movement from turn-of-the-20th-century conservationism to mid-20th-century environmentalism and its backlash to present-day action on environmental justice, biodiversity, and climate. Drawing mainly from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection, Forces of Nature: Voices that Shaped Environmentalism features more than 25 portraits of people who made an enduring impact on public perceptions of the natural world, including well-known figures Rachel Carson, George Washington Carver, Maya Lin, Henry David Thoreau, and Edward O. Wilson. The exhibition will bring together portraiture, visual biography and, when possible, the sitters’ own words to probe this important—and complicated—history.

Forces of Nature: Voices that Shaped Environmentalism is guest curated by Lacey Baradel, science historian at the National Science Foundation.