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Larger-Than-Life Photo of Michael Phelps Installed at Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery
source: National Portrait Gallery

Michael Phelps/Ryan McGinley, 2004/National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

A large chromogenic print photograph of Michael Phelps, taken by Ryan McGinley, has been installed on the first floor of the National Portrait Gallery's north wing.

The photograph, which was first on display when the museum reopened in July 2006, shows Phelps underwater, with his right arm reaching toward the surface, bubbles streaming from his nose. The swimmer became the first athlete to win eight gold medals in one Olympiad at the Beijing Summer Olympics. Counting six gold medals he won in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, the swimmer now holds 14 gold medals and two bronze.

Ryan McGinley photographed Phelps in 2004 on commission from the New York Times Magazine. McGinley photographed the members of the 2004 United States Olympic swim team for a special edition of the magazine; this photograph was featured prominently. The photograph will be on view through January 2009.

Physically, the 6'4'' Phelps is unique: he has an incredibly long arm span of 6'7'' that boosts propulsion, an elongated torso that eliminates drag, and size-fourteen feet-flippers that allow him to undulate through the water like a wave.

For the moment, Phelps says that "every day it seems like I'm in sort of a dream world," but his longer goal is to continue "to raise the bar a bit more in the world of swimming."

WHEN: On view beginning Aug. 28

TIME: 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

WHERE: National Portrait Gallery Eighth and F streets N.W. Washington, D.C.