Portraits of AIDS Research Pioneer Mathilde Krim Join the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection

July 9, 2015
News Release

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery added two portraits of AIDS research pioneer Dr. Mathilde Krim to its collection.

The Portrait Gallery’s collection represents the story and identity of America through the art of portraiture, and these new acquisitions enable the museum to represent a leading figure in the effort to treat and prevent the spread of AIDS.

“It is a great honor to include Dr. Mathilde Krim’s portraits in our collection not only because of her invaluable contribution to this country in science, but also for her tireless work in AIDS research and awareness,” said Kim Sajet, director of the museum. “We are continually working to build the Portrait Gallery’s collection to reflect American achievement by highlighting those who make a difference in the U.S., and Dr. Krim is an exemplar in her field.”

In Annie Leibovitz’s bust-length portrait, Krim wears a looped AIDS-awareness pin on her jacket’s lapel. In Joyce Tenneson’s photograph, Krim wears the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest civilian honor in the U.S.—she received in 2000. This portrait was included in Tenneson’s 2002 book Wise Women: A Celebration of Their Insights, Courage, and Beauty

Krim, a scientist specializing in cancer research, recognized the potential severity of the AIDS epidemic in America when it first appeared in 1981. With a small group of concerned physicians and researchers, she launched early efforts to educate the public about the disease and began the medical research necessary to understand and treat AIDS. While serving as a leading member of the research team at New York’s Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, Krim created the AIDS Medical Foundation in 1983. It merged with a California-based AIDS research and education initiative in 1985 to become the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). Krim was born in Italy and received her doctorate from the University of Geneva in 1952.

These new acquisitions were made possible through the generosity of amfAR. They join more than 22,000 other works in the Portrait Gallery’s collection that represent thousands of people who have made a significant impact on the history and culture of America. The Leibovitz portrait of Krim will be on view this fall in the museum’s 2015 Recent Acquisitions exhibition opening Nov. 6. 

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of America through the individuals who have shaped its culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.

The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Website: npg.si.edu. Connect with the museum at @NPG, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr.

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Bethany Bentley

(202) 633-8293