On Friday, March 5, the National Portrait Gallery paid tribute to one of the United States’s greatest historical preservation advocates and public servants.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927–2003) was a member of four successive presidential administrations: those of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford. He was both ambassador to India and to the United Nations and later served four terms in the United States Senate, beginning in 1976. The late senator was a dedicated and frequent visitor to the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum. He was also passionate about the Penn Quarter revitalization.
Acting NPG Director Brandon Fortune stated, "Daniel Patrick Moynihan brought all of the strength of his intellect, his instinct for architectural excellence, and his love for history to bear on the redevelopment of the Penn Quarter area of Washington, D.C.—just one example of where these talents were put to use. We are thrilled to have his efforts in the realm of urban planning and historic preservation celebrated through the recent Daniel Patrick Moynihan lecture and panel. "
The late senator was truly an American rags-to-riches story, having been raised in New York in an impoverished home but rising to the highest echelons of world politics. Daniel Patrick Moynihan served in the United States navy; he later attended Tufts University, eventually receiving a Ph.D. in sociology.
Introductions to the lecture were provided by Fortune and Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture Richard Kurin. Four friends and colleagues of Senator Moynihan spoke of his commitment to the arts, architecture, and historical preservation: architect David Childs, former Metropolitan Museum vice president Ashton Hawkins, current president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Richard Moe, and Public Buildings Service Commissioner Robert Peck.
The National Portrait Gallery’s newest exhibition, “Glimpse of the Past: A Neighborhood Evolves,” is a visual exploration of the neighborhood surrounding one of the oldest federal buildings in Washington, D.C. The exhibition features images from the 1850s to the present and shows the rise, decline, and revival of the area. The area now known as Penn Quarter was of interest to Moynihan early on, and he chose to reside here before the neighborhood was teeming with its current activity.
Listen to the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Lecture (58:53)The recording does not contain the remarks of Ashton Hawkins, due to technical issues.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan / Boris Chaliapin / Tempera, pencil and ink on board, 1967 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine