Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Gives Voice to Americans’ Experience of War

National Tour Begins at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, Florida, Sept. 1
August 8, 2018
News Release

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Collage of portraits

Courtesy Matt Mitchell

The American military in the 21st century is diverse and reflects the complexities of the country and the current times. “100 Faces of War,” an exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), presents the stories of those who served the U.S. in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The exhibition launches its national tour at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, Florida, Sept. 1 and will remain on view through Nov. 25.

“100 Faces of War,” organized in collaboration with artist Matt Mitchell, features 100 oil portraits of Americans representing a cross-section of home states, military branches, jobs and backgrounds. Each painting includes a candid, unedited, firsthand account of war. The statements take many different forms, including emails and letters to loved ones and poems and words written specifically for this exhibition. The portraits symbolize 100 different and highly personal ways of looking at valor, sacrifice and the human experience of war.

From 2005 to 2014, Mitchell, who did not have any connection to the military, felt compelled to connect with veterans in a meaningful way when he read an article in a local newspaper about an Iraq veteran coming home. He started painting the portraits of those who served and collecting their personal statements. Through this exhibition, visitors will come to know the veterans’ courage, fears, warmth and humanity. More than 2 million Americans have served in the theaters of war in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 through 2014.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 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

The Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, Florida, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is a national outreach program that develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums and educational and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources.