More Than A Picture celebrates the scope and diversity of NMAAHC’s photography collection.
As an accompaniment to the Museum’s popular series of photography books, Double Exposure, this exhibition encourages visitors to explore the ways photographs reflect important moments in history, memory, and time. From the slavery era to Black Lives Matter, More Than A Picture presents a range of American experiences to look beyond an image’s surface to see its significance to history and cultural meaning. This exhibition is shaped by portraits of individuals who empowered themselves to redefine history, groups that share bonds that define their sense of community, and examples of personal expressions that reflect culture and identity.
Photographs are more than just pictures. They record memories from our past and document important moments in which we experience pride, joy, and celebration, and sometimes conflict and confrontation. We create and collect images to preserve our memories, so every photograph has a deeper story that has shaped the histories of individuals, cultures, and communities.
The photographs presented here capture experiences from our nation’s past. Not unlike historical records, these photographs offer a perspective on history that offers evidence of the contributions, achievements, and moments of struggle, in which people seized power to control their fate and destiny.
Photographs shown in this section reflect the ways in which individuals see themselves as part of a community. From the social ties created by friends and families, to the connections that people make to neighborhoods, institutions, and associations, communities unify people around networks of relationships and a sense of belonging.
The photographs in this section highlight the diversity of American cultural values, from a range of traditions and beliefs. They capture expressions of taste and beauty that reflect diverse identities and perspectives on the world. From dance and music to expressions of fashion and style, these images celebrate America’s diversity.
The exhibition includes an interactive area using graphics of photographs in the exhibition and prompts visitors to consider various questions when “reading” a photograph.