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The University of Texas at Austin


Exhibition Features Photographs of Noted Photojournalist Wally McNamee

Presidents, Politics, & Personalities

Contact: David Dettmer, Assistant to the Director
Center for American History
Phone: (512) 495-4515
Fax: (512) 495-9468

Date: May 9, 2005

He was there as President Eisenhower welcomed Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to Washington D.C. in 1959; as President Ronald Reagan met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to discuss disarmament in Reykjavik, Iceland, 1986; and as George W. Bush was inaugurated in 2001. These historic events captured on film by photojournalist Wally McNamee are among ninety of his select photographs on display in "Presidents, Politics, and Personalities: 40 Years of Photojournalism by Wally McNamee¨ an exhibition at the Center for American History. The exhibition, located in the Center's Research and Collections Division in Sid Richardson Hall on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin, runs through August 20, 2005.

McNamee donated his extensive archive of 300,000 images to the archives at the Center for American History in 2003. "Wally's photographs represent an important addition to the archive," stated Center director Don Carleton. "His body of work will serve as an important resource for generations of scholars and students, and everyone who sees his work can appreciate both the historic importance and the artistic beauty of so many of his images."

McNamee has won numerous awards for his photographs, many from the National Press Photographer's Association, the World Press, and the White House News Photographers Association. Four times he was named Photographer of the Year by the latter organization and in 2000 he was given their Lifetime Achievement Award. As the photographer for Newsweek's Special Projects Unit, he won a National Magazine Award for "Charlie Company: What Vietnam Did to Us," an investigation ten years after the conflict into the lives of people who had served in Vietnam.

McNamee learned the mechanics of taking pictures with a speed graphic camera in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1956 he landed a job with The Washington Post as a photojournalist covering politics, the war in Vietnam, and major sporting events. As their "Washington photographer," he joined the staff of Newsweek Magazine in 1968 where he began using 35mm cameras. For the next 30 years he was given high profile assignments covering world events and his photographs were featured on the magazine's covers more than 100 times.

During a career that spanned more than four decades, McNamee photographed a remarkable variety of subjects. He documented ten U.S. Presidents, from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush. He covered the Olympic Games, capturing such gold medalists as Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci in Montreal and Russian figure skater Oksana Baiul in Lillehammer. He photographed the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981; Pope John Paul's celebration of mass in a Chicago Park, 1979; Mick Jagger in Barbados on his 50th birthday, 1993; and Willie Nelson during a 1978 tour.

McNamee's photographs can be seen at Photojournalism and the American Presidency, and Guide to the Wally McNamee Photographic Archive, ca. 1955-2001.

The Center for American History is a special collections library, archive, and museum that facilitates research and sponsors programs on the history of the United States. The Center supports research and education by acquiring, preserving, and making available research collections and by sponsoring exhibitions, conferences, symposia, oral history projects, publications, and grant-funded initiatives.

Inquiries about this exhibition or the May 13 reception may be directed to David Dettmer, Assistant to the Director, at (512) 495-4369, or by email at