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Your Next President...!

The Campaign Art of Mark and Rosalind Shenkman August 27, 2016–April 10, 2017

bottom: President Cleveland’s elaborate kerchief includes a print of the White House to remind viewers that he is the incumbent. President Grover Cleveland re-election campaign kerchief, 1888. Collection of Mark and Rosalind Shenkman.

“Party politics was our first national sport, and the public played and watched the great game with enthusiasm.” —DANIEL WALKER HOWE, HISTORIAN

Your Next President...! The 2016 election season has provoked

The campaign flags, banners, kerchiefs,

powerful clashes within the American voting

buttons, prints, and programs of Your Next

public. Loud arguments abound to the point

President . . . ! The Campaign Art of Mark

where it seems everyone is shouting and no

and Rosalind Shenkman were produced

one is listening. But a look at the first century

between 1819 and 1912. Their slogans

of American political campaigning reveals

and political symbols, flashy colors, and

that the hot-button issues and styles of the

dynamic designs take viewers on a journey

2016 presidential race are not particularly

through the evolution of American political

new. What strike us as twenty-first-century

campaign styles and the textiles that

concerns—immigration, government reform,

popularized their messages.

protection of American industry, prosperity, and patriotism—were very familiar to voters in the nineteenth century. top: Harrison’s partisans got attention for the candidate by pushing a ten-foot campaign ball from town to town. Harrison promised to reform the weak economy following the Panic of 1837. 13-Star William Henry Harrison campaign flag, 1840. Collection of Mark and Rosalind Shenkman.

Unlike today’s candidates, our first president George Washington refused to campaign for office. Instead of “running” in 1789, Washington “stood” for election, while others made speeches and shook hands on his behalf. For the next century, many presidential candidates followed Washington’s example. In the 1840s, supporters began to circulate flags and kerchiefs to promote their favorite candidates. With advances in photography, Abraham Lincoln took campaigning to a new level, putting his image and message into wide circulation via flags, buttons, and keepsakes printed with his likeness. Your Next President . . . ! takes viewers to a time when many Americans could not read and news traveled by word of mouth. Campaign flags and other novelties relied

on familiar visual imagery—beginning with the U.S. flag itself. George Washington University Trustee Emeritus Mark R. Shenkman has collected 135 rare political textiles since 2000. Thirty-two of these artifacts are displayed in the Woodhull House galleries alongside supporting objects from the museum’s Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection, the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and the Collection of Tony Lee. Because presidential contests ended with inauguration celebrations in Washington, D.C., Your Next President . . . ! concludes with a look at how local Washingtonians once financed and produced these quadrennial festivities. top: Grand Demonstration of the Democracy in New York City (detail), Harper’s Weekly, October 5, 1868. Collection of Mark and Rosalind Shenkman. center inset: Teddy bears symbolized Theodore Roosevelt to voters in 1904. Teddy Bears stickpin, 1904 or 1912. Collection of Tony Lee. right panel: Families of legislators and other prominent people watched the parade from a balcony high atop the Capitol. The Inauguration of President Garfield, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, March 19, 1881. Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection 89.

Museum Information Location

The museum is located at the corner of 21st and G streets, NW, four blocks from the Foggy BottomGWU Metro Station (Blue, Orange, and Silver lines). For directions and parking information, visit


Albert H. Small Center for National Capital Area Studies The reading room is open by appointment Mon, Wed–Thu 11:30 AM–4 PM. Please email to make an appointment.

Public Programs

For the most up-to-date information on the museum’s visiting hours, please check

For the most up-to-date list of the museum’s educational programs visit

Closed Tuesdays and university holidays.

Exhibition Tours


Free walk-in tours of the galleries are offered each Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 PM (textile tour) and 2:45 PM (Washingtoniana tour). To schedule a docent-led tour for groups of six to forty people, call 202-994-5578 at least four weeks in advance.

$8 suggested donation for non-members. Free for museum members, children, and current GW students, faculty, and staff.

Accessibility The museum is wheelchair accessible and designated garage parking is available nearby. Visit museum.gwu. edu/accessibility for more information.

Museum Shop Visit the shop for unique jewelry, home décor, books, and gifts from Washington, D.C., and around the world that support the museum’s educational mission.

Arthur D. Jenkins Library The library is open Wed-Thu 1-4 PM and by appointment. Please contact the librarian before your visit at

Join or Donate Support from members and donors is the driving force that allows the museum to continue its work bringing art, history, and culture alive for the GW community and the public. To join or renew a current membership, or to make a donation, visit or call 202-994-5579.

Stay in Touch Follow the museum online for more information about works on view, programs, and behind-thescenes activities.

cover image: This rare and unusually large flag features a Lincoln portrait by Mathew Brady. Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin campaign banner, 1860. Collection of Mark and Rosalind Shenkman.


Your Next President . . . ! The Campaign Art of Mark and Rosalind Shenkman  

Guide to the George Washington University Museum's exhibition (August 27, 2016 through April 10, 2017)

Your Next President . . . ! The Campaign Art of Mark and Rosalind Shenkman  

Guide to the George Washington University Museum's exhibition (August 27, 2016 through April 10, 2017)


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