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The Olympics Across the Collection

The Olympics are upon us and once again, we’ve been swept up by the excitement of the games. Will Simone Biles win her first gold medal? Will Michael Phelps win his last? Will Bob Costas be sidelined by another debilitating eye infection? All of that remains to be seen, but we’ve explored our archives to find you even more Olympic-themed works. Enjoy!

This image shows the Olympic Mountains in Olympic National Park in western Washington. This mountain range (and Mount Olympus, the highest peak in it) was named after Mount Olympus in Greece, the fabled home of the Greek god Zeus who the Ancient Olympic Games honored.

Lisa Larsen took this photograph of Russian javelin thrower Virva Rolleid for LIFE Magazine in 1956. At the time, Rolleid was ranked third in the world for her event and was preparing for the Soviet Union’s spartakiad, similar to our Olympic Trials. The article that appeared alongside the photo of Rolleid and those of other Olympic hopefuls focused on Russia’s state-directed effort to develop the best Olympic team possible. In fact, the Soviet Union earned 37 gold medals in the 1956 Olympics, the most of any country.

This image comes from Hokusai’s famous series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. Hokusai shows an operating grain mill (with Mounth Fuji in the mist far in the distance) whose waterwheel sources water from the Shibuya River. In advance of the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Shibuya River was filled in to make more land available. Now the area is known as Harajuku, the center of youth culture in Tokyo.


Image Credits:

Lawrence Hudetz. Olympic National Park, Washington: Valley of Light, 1964. Photography Purchase Fund.

Lisa Larsen. Russian Olympic Javelin Thrower, 1945/57. Peabody Fund.

Katsushika Hokusai. Waterwheel at Onden from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, c. 1830-33. Clarence Buckingham Collection.