Amelia Earhart will be focus of year-long exhibition at Portrait Gallery

Aviation pioneers have always captured the public’s imagination, but none quite as much as the daring Amelia Earhart.

And we think we know her story. The National Portrait Gallery announced Tuesday that it is mounting a show, “One Life: Amelia Earhart,” that will go beyond her aviation achievements and her tragic disappearance. It opens June 29.

And proving that Earhart still makes news. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with members of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery to discuss the unsolved case of the aviator. The group plans another search for Earhart’s plane in June.


View Photo Gallery: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken interest in one of the biggest unsolved mysteries of the 20th century: the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. This year, the National Portrait Gallery will devote an exhibition to the aviatrix.

The museum’s show will illustrate how Earhart also belongs in the annals of those who fought for women’s rights. She started a women’s pilot program, joined the National Women’s Party, supported the Equal Rights Amendment of that time and campaigned for other causes through her speaking tours and writings. And some of her photographs prove she was quite a fashionista.

“Amelia Earhart’s impact on American culture extends beyond her record-setting aviation feats,” said the museum director, Martin Sullivan. “She was also an advocate for aviation and women, and championed the first commercial airlines. Now we take for granted the convenience of air travel and equal rights for all, but in the 1920s and ’30s, these positions reflected the ideals of a bold visionary.”

In addition to photographs and paintings, the exhibit will include her pilot’s license, leather flying helmet and smelling salts. Her marriage contract with George Putnam will also be displayed, as well as vintage film. The National Air and Space Museum is also lending some objects.

In 1932, Earhart made a solo flight across the Atlantic, which made her one of that era’s media celebrities. She disappeared while flying over the Pacific in July 1937.

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