On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s groundbreaking and most controversial speech entitled, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” this exhibition surveys the modes in which visual culture documents protest, political transformations, and social change. In 1967, King called on the American public to focus our priorities on a “person-oriented” society rather than a “thing-oriented” culture. The speech made waves as it was King who broke silence: speaking against militarization in the height of the Vietnam War and calling for government spending to be reallocated to ending poverty. When King asserted these ideas, America found itself in a moment that can act as an important mirror for the divisive and volatile social landscape of today. A Time To Break Silence explores images that situate themselves at the core of where ideologies have differed and society has shifted.
This thematic exhibition begins with dynamic documents from the permanent collection, including photographs from Edmund Eckstein’s celebrated Coming of Rage series and New Hope photographer Jack Rosen’s images of a changing society in southeastern Pennsylvania. It further explores regional contemporary perspectives where the experimental means of creating images by artists expand our understanding of the pressing social issues of our time.
To exhibit a work of art is not to endorse the work or the vision, ideas, and opinions contained within. The works that a museum exhibits may awe, illuminate, challenge, unsettle, confound, provoke, and, at times, offend. This exhibition contains some photography with complicated social content and we advise that younger visitors be accompanied by an adult. We welcome public discussion, with the belief that such dialogue is integral to the experience of the art.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website