Portrait gallery marks Presidents Day with haunting last photo of Lincoln

WASHINGTON — Just in time for Presidents Day, the National Portrait Gallery is throwing a birthday party to celebrate the museum’s 50th anniversary and its iconic “America’s Presidents” exhibit.

On Saturday, the museum held a day of family-fun filled with music, art and other activities.

Children dressed up as presidents and had their pictures taken.

Visitors were treated to a look at the new portraits of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.

Visitors also got the rare chance to see the original “cracked-plate” photo of President Abraham Lincoln, which is on temporary display at the museum.

Since the glass negative cracked, only a single print was made before the damaged negative was thrown away. The picture clearly shows the crack that goes across the top of the photograph.

The photo by Alexander Gardner was the last studio portrait of the president just two months before Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865. Some call it the most haunting portrait of any president.

The "cracked plate" photo, taken two months before Lincoln's assassination. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The “cracked plate” photo, taken two months before Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

The photo is on temporary display at the National Portrait Gallery. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The photo taken two months before Abraham Lincoln was killed is on temporary display at the National Portrait Gallery. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

Information on display about the cracked-plate" photo. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
Information on display about the “cracked-plate” photo of Abraham Lincoln. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

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The "cracked plate" photo, taken two months before Lincoln's assassination. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The photo is on temporary display at the National Portrait Gallery. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
Information on display about the cracked-plate" photo. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

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