Babe Ruth focus of National Portrait Gallery exhibit (Photos)

A portrait of Babe Ruth and his family by Underwood & Underwood. (Courtesy Library of Congress)
A portrait of Babe Ruth and his family by Underwood & Underwood, 1925. (Courtesy Library of Congress)

Babe Ruth in Yankee's Uniform by Irwin, La Broad, and Pudlin, 1920. (Courtesy Library of Congress)
Babe Ruth in Yankee’s Uniform by Irwin, La Broad, and Pudlin, 1920. (Courtesy Library of Congress)

"Babe Ruth" by William Auerbach-Levy. (Courtesy Smithsonian Institution)
“Babe Ruth” by William Auerbach-Levy. (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

Babe Ruth and other Red Sox pitchers by Underwood & Underwood, 1915. (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)
Babe Ruth and other Red Sox pitchers by Underwood & Underwood, 1915. (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth by Unidentified Artist in 1931. (Courtesy Smithsonian Institution)
Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth by Unidentified Artist in 1931. (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

Babe Ruth by Paolo Garretto, 1929. (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)
Babe Ruth by Paolo Garretto, 1929. (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

"Babe Ruth" by Nat Fein, 1948. (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)
“Babe Ruth” by Nat Fein, 1948. (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

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A portrait of Babe Ruth and his family by Underwood & Underwood. (Courtesy Library of Congress)
Babe Ruth in Yankee's Uniform by Irwin, La Broad, and Pudlin, 1920. (Courtesy Library of Congress)
"Babe Ruth" by William Auerbach-Levy. (Courtesy Smithsonian Institution)
Babe Ruth and other Red Sox pitchers by Underwood & Underwood, 1915. (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)
Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth by Unidentified Artist in 1931. (Courtesy Smithsonian Institution)
Babe Ruth by Paolo Garretto, 1929. (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)
"Babe Ruth" by Nat Fein, 1948. (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

WASHINGTON — Babe Ruth was a man with many names — “Big Bam,” “The Great Bambino” and the “Sultan of Swat,” to name a few — and a new exhibit at Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is showcasing just as many elements of the baseball legend’s life.

The Baltimore-born lefty is the focus of a 32-item exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery called “One Life: Babe Ruth.” It’s a quick glimpse into Ruth’s life through portraiture, said James Barber, historian at the Portrait Gallery and curator of the exhibition.

“We look at the life of this incredible person,” Barber said. “He’s like classic literature, a good book, which never goes out of print — there’s always an audience for.”

Of the more than 30 objects, 11 are portraits and caricatures from the Smithsonian’s collection. The rest of the collection is made up of borrowed memorabilia from places such as Ruth’s birthplace in Baltimore.

Also featured are some of the products The Caliph of Clout put his name behind.

“We look at Babe Ruth’s marketability … the products that Babe Ruth endorsed: Babe Ruth underwear, Babe Ruth chocolate,” Barber said, adding Ruth backed things from cigars to cereal too.

Ruth may have died nearly 68 years ago, but he is still an appropriate icon to be featured in the exhibit because he “still resonates with the American public,” Barber said.

“Every day there is a youngster out there who is discovering Babe Ruth for the first time,” Barber said.

The exhibition opens June 24 and runs through May 21, 2017.

If you go:

Where: National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F Streets NW Washington, D.C. 20001
When: The museum is open from 11:30 a.m. — 7 p.m. daily
Cost: free

WTOP’s Rachel Nania contributed to this report.

Sarah Beth Hensley

Sarah Beth Hensley is the Digital News Director at WTOP. She has worked several different roles since she began with WTOP in 2013 and has contributed to award-winning stories and coverage on the website.

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