Fifty years after Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his controversial, groundbreaking speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” the Michener Art Museum surveys the visual documentation of protest, political transformations, and social change in the exhibition A Time to Break Silence: Pictures of Social Change.

In 1967, King challenged Americans to focus on a “person-oriented” society rather than a “thing-oriented” culture. It was King who broke the silence; at the height of the Vietnam War, he spoke against militarization and called for the reallocation of government spending instead to combat poverty. After that speech, America found itself in a moment that is echoed in the divisive and volatile social landscape of today.

A Time to Break Silence explores images that situate themselves where ideologies diverge and society shifts. This thematic exhibition begins with dynamic documents from the permanent collection, including photographs from Ed Eckstein’s celebrated Coming of Rage series and New Hope photographer Jack Rosen’s images of a changing society in southeastern Pennsylvania. It further explores regional contemporary perspectives that expand our understanding of the pressing social issues of our time.

To exhibit a work of art is not to endorse the work or the vision, ideas, and opinions contained within. The works that a museum exhibits may awe, illuminate, challenge, unsettle, confound, provoke, and, at times, offend. This exhibition contains some photography with complicated social content and we advise that younger visitors be accompanied by an adult. We welcome public discussion, with the belief that such dialogue is integral to the experience of the art.

The exhibition program in the Bette and Nelson Pfundt Gallery is presented by Vivian Banta and Robert Field.