About the Exhibition

The year 1898 was a flashpoint that brought about profound geopolitical changes. Expanding beyond its continental bounds, the United States, a country born of an anticolonial struggle, transformed itself into an empire by seizing the remaining Spanish possessions in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and securing Hawai’i as part of its dominion. Three contentious events heralded this sea change: the Spanish-American War (henceforth the War of 1898), with its invasions of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam; the Joint Resolution to annex Hawai’i; and the Philippine-American War. These events had profound implications for the lands involved, as well as for residents of the United States—and indeed for the course of modern history.

On the 125th anniversary of these conflicts, portraiture puts faces to these places and presents this history from multiple perspectives. Patrons of portraiture wielded the craft as an instrument of nation-building, and in the lands whose sovereignty the United States assailed or dissolved, as a tool of resistance or affirmation. The legacy of U.S. imperialism continues to be contested today, both politically and constitutionally. This exhibition captures these debates and recognizes that the Smithsonian Institution’s collecting practices legitimized the imperial project.

Image Gallery

Edgar P. Richardson Symposium: "1898: U.S. Imperial Visions and Revisions

On September 8 and 9 the National Portrait Gallery hosted the 2023 Edgar P. Richardson Symposium, organized around the landmark exhibition, 1898: U.S. Imperial Visions and Revisions. The symposium convened over 40 scholars and artists from the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, Hawai‘i, Cuba, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States for two days of panels, roundtables and gallery talks, and a keynote address by the 2022 Pulitzer Prize Winner, Ada Ferrer.
Exhibition Catalogue

1898: Visual Culture and U.S. Imperialism in the Caribbean and the Pacific book cover

1898: Visual Culture and U.S. Imperialism in the Caribbean and the Pacific

  • By: ‎Taína Caragol, Kate Clarke Lemay and Carolina Maestre
  • Publisher: ‎Princeton University Press
  • Language: ‎English
  • Hardcover‏: ‎272 pages
  • SBN-10‏: ‎0691246203
  • ISBN-13‏: ‎978-0691246208

In 1898, the United States seized territories overseas, ushering in an era of expansion that was at odds with the nation’s founding promise of freedom and democracy for all. This book draws on portraiture and visual culture to provide fresh perspectives on this crucial yet underappreciated period in history.

Taína Caragol and Kate Clarke Lemay tell the story of 1898 by bringing together portraits of U.S. figures who favored overseas expansion, such as William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, with those of leading figures who resisted colonization, including Eugenio María de Hostos of Puerto Rico; José Martí of Cuba; Felipe Agoncillo of the Philippines; Padre José Torres Palomo of Guam; and Queen Lili‘uokalani of Hawai‘i. Throughout the book, Caragol and Lemay also look at landscapes, naval scenes, and ephemera. They consider works of art by important period artists Winslow Homer and Armando García Menocal as well as contemporary artists such as Maia Cruz Palileo, Stephanie Syjuco, and Miguel Luciano. Paul A. Kramer’s essay addresses the role of the Smithsonian Institution in supporting imperialism, and texts by Jorge Duany, Theodore S. Gonzalves, Kristin L. Hoganson, Healoha Johnston, and Neil Weare offer critical perspectives by experts with close personal or scholarly relations to the island regions.

Beautifully illustrated, 1898: Visual Culture and U.S. Imperialism in the Caribbean and the Pacific challenges us to reconsider the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, and the annexation of Hawai‘i while shedding needed light on the lasting impacts of U.S. imperialism.

Published in association with the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

Available in the Museum Shop,
Sept. 1, 2023

Available for pre-order from:


The exhibition catalogue will be available by early September.


  • "1898: U.S. Imperial Visions and Revisions" has been made possible with support from the following:

  • The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Ann S. and Samuel M. Mencoff
  • Luis A. Miranda, Jr., the Miranda Family Foundation
  • Terra Foundation for American Art
  • Ann E. Roulet, Laura Roulet, and Rafael Hernández
  • Kate Kelly and George Schweitzer
  • Gretchen Sierra-Zorita and Peter B. Hutt II
  • M. Salomé Galib and Duane McLaughlin
Terra Foundation for American Art logo
Miranda Family logo
Terra Foundation for American Art logo

This exhibition received Federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center and the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.