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Challenging the Status Quo through the Lens of a Camera 

October 7, 2018 – October 27, 2019

“For me, there’s no difference between photographing a celebrity and a migrant worker. You’re always looking for a picture with emotion, design, and information.” – Steve Schapiro

Activists and Icons: The Photographs of Steve Schapiro shows, through powerful documentary photography, that the issues of the civil rights movement are still deeply relevant today. Forty-two large-format photographs tell the stories of seminal moments in history from the March on Washington (1963) to Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign (1968). Among the images are emotional portraits of heroes both known and unknown, ranging from Rosa Parks and James Baldwin to an unnamed sanitation striker.

Renowned Chicago-based photographer Steve Schapiro has given history a human face throughout his career as a widely published photographer for Life, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and numerous other publications. Visitors to this exhibit will experience Schapiro’s intimate perspective on the civil rights movement, as well as vivid portraits of celebrities including David Bowie and Jackie Kennedy, who used their influence to challenge—and change—our cultural norms.

For the Press

Click here to access the press release.

Supporting Sponsors

Brenda and Lance Feis

Women’s Leadership Committee of Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation


This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.




Additional Funders

Brian and Gail Boorstein

The Golder Family Foundation supports all Illinois Holocaust Museum special exhibitions.

Community Partners

Chicago Urban League

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs

Media Sponsor

Chicago Magazine



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