Every Eye Is Upon Me: First Ladies of the United States is the first major exhibition to explore the historical significance of this prominent position through the mode of portraiture. The exhibition, organized in collaboration with the White House and the National First Ladies’ Library, spans nearly 250 years, from Martha Washington to Melania Trump, and features more than 60 portraits of the First Ladies or those who undertook the role of White House hostess, alongside related ephemera, including iconic dresses.
The exhibition is curated by Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, the National Portrait Gallery’s senior historian and director of history, research, and scholarly programs. A richly illustrated book entitled First Ladies of the United States, co-published by the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian Books, serves as a companion for the exhibition, along with the recent volume America’s Presidents (2017).
Every Eye Is Upon Me: First Ladies of the United States is one of 11 exhibitions dedicated to women presented by the Portrait Gallery over a five-year period (2018–22), and is part of the Smithsonian American Women’s Initiative, “Because of Her Story.” It is made possible through the support of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, Morgan Stanley, and the generosity of many other donors.