This chronology originally appeared in the printed exhibition catalogue, Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology. The catalogue is available for purchase through the Hammer Store.

 

  • 1973


    • January 22

      Roe v. Wade: In a seven-to-two ruling, the US Supreme Court declares most state laws restricting abortion unconstitutional.

    • January 23

      US president Richard Nixon announces that a cease-fire agreement has been reached in Vietnam, and on January 27 the Paris Peace Accords are signed.

    • February 1

      The journal Womanspace begins publication with the February–March issue. Articles include Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro’s essay "Female Imagery." Only three issues of the journal are published because of lack of financial support.

    • April 3

      The first call on a handheld mobile phone is made by Martin Cooper of Motorola in New York City.

    • April 4

      The World Trade Center, featuring the landmark twin towers, opens.

    • May 14

      Skylab, the United States' first space station, is launched.

    • July 1

      The US Drug Enforcement Administration is founded.

    • July 16

      Watergate scandal: Former White House aide Alexander Butterfield informs the US Senate Watergate Committee that President Richard Nixon has secretly recorded poten­tially incriminating conversations.

    • September 1

      Two women-run cooperative exhibition spaces open in Chicago: Artemisia Gallery, named for Artemisia Gentileschi, and the ARC Gallery.

    • November

      The Woman's Building in Los Angeles—founded by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, Arlene Raven, and Judy Chicago—opens. It includes the Feminist Studio Workshop.

    • November 28

      Womanspace, the first West Coast cooperative gallery dedicated to work by women artists, opens.

    • December 11

      Mark Segal of the Gay Raiders interrupts the live broadcast of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, waving a banner that reads "Gays Protest CBS Prejudice." 

    • December 15

      The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II).

    • December 26

      The Exorcist is released. It reawakens the horror movie genre and becomes one of the most popular and controversial films ever released.

       

      The first personal computer, the Alto, is developed at Xerox. It is the first computer to be called a desktop and has a mouse and graphical user interface with icons.

       

      The Whitney Museum of American Art hosts its first Whitney Biennial (it had been a Whitney Annual since 1932), marking its acknowledgment of multimedia practices.

       

      Lucy Lippard publishes Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object.

       

      The Kitchen Center for Video, Music and Dance is incorporated as a nonprofit space in New York City. (It was founded two years earlier as an artists' collective by Woody and Steina Vasulka.)

       

      Art Basel stages its first fair, with 281 exhibitors and more than thirty thousand visitors. 

  • 1974


    • June 13

      In Corning Glass Works v. Brennan, the US Supreme Court rules that employers cannot justify paying women lower wages because that is what they have traditionally received under the "going market rate." A wage differential occurring "simply because men would not work at the low rates paid women" was deemed unacceptable.

    • August 8

      US president Richard Nixon announces his resignation.

       

      J. Paul Getty opens his second museum, a re-creation of the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum, on his property in Pacific Palisades, California.

       

      Hans Haacke's piece for Projekt '74 at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne is rejected by the museum because it outlines the provenance of Edouard Manet's painting Bunch of Asparagus (1880), including information about a patron of the museum, the German banker Hermann J. Abs, who occupied key financial positions during the Third Reich.

       

      The artist Nam June Paik uses the term super highway in reference to telecommunications, which gives rise to the opinion that he may have been the author of the phrase "informa­tion superhighway."

  • 1975


    • January 1

      John N. Mitchell, H. R. Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman are found guilty of the Watergate cover-up.

    • January 8

      Ella Grasso becomes governor of Connecticut, the first female US governor who did not succeed her husband.

    • January 19

      The US Energy Research and Development Administration is founded in response to the 1973 oil crisis.

    • February 6

      Responding to the rise of "Nazi chic," Susan Sontag publishes her important essay "Fascinating Fascism."

    • February 11

      Margaret Thatcher defeats Edward Heath for the leadership of Britain's opposition Conservative Party. Thatcher, forty-nine, is Britain's first female leader of any political party.

    • April 4

      Bill Gates and Paul Allen found Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    • April 30

      The Vietnam War ends as communist forces from North Vietnam take Saigon, resulting in mass evacuations of Americans and South Vietnamese. As the capital is taken, South Vietnam surrenders unconditionally.

    • August 8

      The term global warming is probably first used in its modern sense by Wallace Smith Broecker.

    • September 29

      WGPR-TV, channel 62 in Detroit, becomes the first television station in the United States to be black owned and operated.

    • October 7

      US president Gerald Ford approves a public law granting women entrance into Army, Navy, and Air Force academies.

    • October 11

      NBC airs the first episode of Saturday Night Live. (George Carlin is the first host.)

       

      Sony introduces the Betamax video recorder in the United States and Japan. It comes in a teakwood console with a 19-inch color television and retails for $2,495.

       

      The first of three issues of the journal The Fox are published in New York; it is edited by Joseph Kosuth with articles by Art & Language, Sarah Charlesworth, and Terry Smith, among many others. 

       

      The French philosopher Michel Foucault publishes his book Surveiller et punir: Naissance de la prison (Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison).

       

      Carolee Schneemann performs Interior Scroll, a Fluxus-influenced piece using text and the body.

       

      Laura Mulvey's essay "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" pioneers the feminist use of psychoanalysis for cultural critique. 

  • 1976


    • April 1

      Apple Computer Company is formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

    • April 22

      Barbara Walters accepts a $5 million, five-year contract as anchorwoman for the evening news with the ABC network. She is the first woman newscaster on US network television.

    • July 2

      North Vietnam and South Vietnam unite to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

    • July 2

      In Gregg v. Georgia, the US Supreme Court rules that the death penalty is not inherently cruel or unusual and is a constitu­tionally acceptable form of punishment. 

    • July 21

      The Institute for Art and Urban Resources (later P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center) opens in Long Island City, New York. The inaugural exhibition, Rooms, presents site-specific works and installations by artists from the United States and abroad.

    • August 16

      The Ramones make their first "professional" performance at CBGB in Lower Manhattan.

    • September 24

      Patricia Hearst is sentenced to seven years in prison for her role in a 1974 bank robbery (an executive clemency order from US president Jimmy Carter will set her free after only twenty-two months).

    • November 8

      Lucy Lippard publishes From the Center: Feminist Essays on Women's Art

    • November 17

      The traveling exhibition The Treasures of Tutankhamun opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. More than eight million people will see the show during the three-year US tour. 

       

      The journal October is founded by Rosalind Krauss and Annette Michelson. In the spring issue, Krauss's essay "Video: The Aesthetics of Narcissism" is published.

       

      The first marital rape law is enacted in Nebraska, making it illegal for a husband to have nonconsensual sex with his wife.

  • 1977


    • January 1

      Marcia Tucker founds the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City.

    • January 17

      Gary Gilmore is executed by firing squad in Utah, marking the first execution after the reintroduction of the death penalty in the United States.

    • May 25

      Star Wars opens and becomes the highest-grossing film to date.

    • June 5

      The first Apple II series computers go on sale.

    • June 20

      The US Supreme Court rules that the states are not required to spend Medicaid funds on elective abortions.

    • June 30

      The Women Marines are disbanded, and women are integrated into the regular Marine Corps.

    • August 3

      US Senate hearings begin on Project MKUltra, the code name for a covert, illegal US government research operation experimenting with the behavioral engineer­ing of humans (mind control) through the CIA's Scientific Intelligence Division.

    • August 16

      Elvis Presley dies at his home, Graceland, at age forty-two. Some seventy-five thousand fans line the streets of Memphis for his funeral.

    • September 7

      Treaties between Panama and the United States on the status of the Panama Canal are signed. The United States agrees to transfer control of the canal to Panama at the end of the twentieth century.

    • September 8

      Interpol issues a resolution against piracy of videotapes and other materials, which is still cited in warnings on videocassettes and DVDs.

    • September 11

      Atari, Inc., releases its Video Computer System in North America.

    • September 24

      Pictures, an exhibition curated by Douglas Crimp, opens at Artists Space in New York City. It features the work of Troy Brauntuch, Jack Goldstein, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, and Philip Smith.

    • September 29

      The Food Stamp Act is enacted.

    • October 14

      Anita Bryant takes a pie in the face from four gay-rights activists during a press conference in Des Moines in response to her antigay remarks about the murder of Robert Hillsborough.

    • November 8

      Harvey Milk is elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay elected official of any large city in the United States.

    • December 13

      Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz-Starus stage In Mourning and In Rage on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall in response to the inadequate media coverage of the Hillside Strangler, a serial killer who targeted women. 

  • 1978


    • February 15

      For the first time, a US abortion clinic is bombed by antiabortion extremists.

    • June 6

      20/20, an American television news­magazine devoted to human-interest stories rather than international and political news, debuts on ABC.

    • June 25

      The rainbow flag is first used as a symbol of gay pride at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade. The original eight-striped version was designed by Gilbert Baker.

    • September 23

      Christopher D'Arcangelo, Louise Lawler, Adrian Piper, and Cindy Sherman participate in an exhibition orga­nized by Janelle Reiring at Artists Space.

    • October 31

      The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amends Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, making it unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

    • November 18

      One of the first "Take Back the Night" rallies organized to protest pornog­raphy and violence against women takes place in San Francisco. 

    • November 27

      San Francisco mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk are assassinated at City Hall by Dan White, a former city supervisor. That night some thirty thousand people participate in a candlelight vigil, marching from Castro Street to City Hall.

       

      A group of thirteen artists (primarily from the Chicano/Latino community and the Otis Art Institute) found Los Angeles Contem­porary Exhibitions (LACE), which is committed to social change and to present­ing experimental works of art in all mediums, including performance art and video.

       

      The History of Sexuality: An Introduction by Michel Foucault is published. 

  • 1979


    • March 16

      The first exhibition of The Dinner Party—a collaborative installation by feminist artist Judy Chicago consisting of a table with place settings for thirty-nine mythical and historical women—opens.

    • March 19

      C-SPAN, an American television channel focusing on government and public affairs, is launched.

    • May 25

      The movie Alien, a landmark of the science fiction genre, is released.

    • May 29

      Los Angeles outlaws discrimination against homosexuals by private-sector employers and by business establishments in the city. Mayor Thomas Bradley signs the bills into law on July 2.

    • October 14

      More than one hundred thousand people participate in the first national march for gay and lesbian rights in Washington, DC.

    • November 4

      Iran hostage crisis begins: three thousand Iranian radicals, mostly students, invade the US embassy in Tehran and take ninety hostages, demanding that the United States send back the former shah of Iran to stand trial. Fifty-two Americans are held hostage for 444 days.

    • December 30

      The Real Estate Show begins as an action in which thirty-five artists occupy an abandoned city-owned storefront build­ing on New York City's Lower East Side and install an exhibition without permission.

       

      At the urging of Councilman Joel Wachs and the philanthropist Marcia Simon Weisman, Mayor Thomas Bradley establishes the Museum Advisory Committee, which leads to the founding of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. 

       

      A number of people in Sweden call in sick with a case of homosexuality to protest the classification of homosexuality as an illness. This is followed by an activist occu­pation of the main office of the National Board of Health and Welfare. Within a few months, Sweden becomes the first country in the world to no longer classify homosexuality as an illness.

       

      Jean-François Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition is published.

       

      Art/New York—a video magazine about con­temporary art sold by subscription to schools, museums, and libraries—reflects the rise of video technology in the late 1970s. 

  • 1980


    • February

      After the New York art critic and political activist Lucy Lippard issues a call for socially concerned artists to participate in political art events, a group of artists and writers organize what becomes known as Political Art Documentation/Distribution (PAD/D).

    • June 1

      Cable News Network (CNN), the first twenty-four-hour news channel, is launched.

    • July 16

      The Republican National Convention takes place in Detroit. Influenced by the religious right, the party drops its long-standing support for the Equal Rights Amendment.

    • July 27

      Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the former shah of Iran, dies. In September, Iraq invades Iran. These two events lead the Iranian government to enter negotiations with the United States, with Algeria acting as a mediator. The hostages are formally released into US custody on January 20, 1981, the day after the signing of the Algiers Accords, just minutes after the new US president, Ronald Reagan, is sworn into office.

    • October 4

      The artists' collective Group Material's first exhibition, The Inaugural Exhibition, opens at its space at 244 East Thirteenth Street in New York City.

    • November 4

      Ronald Reagan defeats Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential election

    • December 8

      John Lennon is shot dead in front of his apartment building in New York City by Mark David Chapman.

       

      Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography is published.

       

      Metro Pictures is founded in SoHo by Janelle Reiring, previously of Castelli Gallery, and Helene Winer, previously of Artists Space. 

       

      Transgender people are officially classified by the American Psychiatric Association as having "gender identity disorder."

  • 1981


    • January 2

      The British feminist art historians Rozsika Parker and Griselda Pollock publish Old Mistresses: Women, Art, and Ideology

    • March 30

      US president Ronald Reagan is shot in the chest outside a Washington, DC, hotel by John Hinckley Jr. Two police officers and James Brady, the White House press secretary, are also wounded.

    • June 5

      The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report an unusual cluster of Pneumocystis pneumonia in five homosexual men in Los Angeles, marking the beginning of the AIDS pandemic.

    • July 1

      "The Message," by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, is released. It is the first prominent hip-hop song to incorporate social commentary into its lyrics and later becomes the first song in the genre to be added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. 

    • August 1

      The MTV network debuts on cable television, playing music videos twenty-four hours a day.

    • September 21

      The US Senate confirms President Reagan's nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court. She becomes the first female justice. 

       

      Art in General is founded in New York City by the artists Martin Weinstein and Teresa Liszka.

       

      The performance artist Laurie Anderson releases the song "O Superman (For Massenet)," part of the larger project United States. The song becomes a mainstream hit single. 

       

      Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation is published.

  • 1982


    • February 1

      Late Night with David Letterman debuts on NBC.

    • June 11

      E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is released and for several years is the highest-grossing film of all time.

    • June 12

      A rally against nuclear weapons draws 750,000 to New York City's Central Park. 

    • June 30

      The Equal Rights Amendment falls short of the thirty-eight states needed to pass; Phyllis Schlafly and other leaders of the Christian right take credit for its defeat.

    • October 1

      Sony launches the first consumer compact disc (CD) player (model CDP-101).

    • December 7

      The first US execution by lethal injection is carried out in Texas.

    • December 26

      For the first time a nonhuman, the computer, is named Time magazine's Man of the Year.

  • 1983


    • January 1

      The migration of the ARPANET to TCP/IP is officially completed, a development considered to mark the beginning of the Internet.

    • January 1

      Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology, a collection of black lesbian and feminist writings edited by Barbara Smith, is published.

    • June 18

      The physicist and astronaut Sally Ride is part of the crew of the STS-7 mission on the space shuttle Challenger, becoming the first American woman in space.

    • August 29

      Columbia College, the last all-male Ivy League college and a part of Columbia University, admits women to its freshman class for the first time in its 229-year history. 

    • September 17

      Vanessa Williams becomes the first African American Miss America. Midway through her reign, on July 23, 1984, Williams relinquishes her crown due to controversy over nude photographs of her that appeared in Penthouse magazine.

    • December 2

      The music video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is broadcast for the first time. 

  • 1984


    • January 24

      Apple Computer starts selling the Macintosh personal computer in the United States.

    • April 4

      President Reagan calls for an international ban on chemical weapons.

    • April 22

      Dr. Robert Gallo and Margaret Heckler, the US secretary of health and human services, announce the discovery of HTLV-III, the virus that causes AIDS.

    • May 17

      The Museum of Modern Art in New York reopens after a four-year renovation with An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture. Only 14 of the 165 participating artists are women, provoking protests about the underrepresentation of women artists.

    • August 11

      During a voice check for a radio broadcast, President Reagan remarks: "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."

    • November 6

      In his bid for reelection, President Reagan defeats Walter F. Mondale with 59 percent of the popular vote, the highest margin since Richard Nixon's 61 percent popular-vote victory in 1972. 

    • November 9

      Cesar Chavez delivers his speech "What the Future Holds for Farm Workers and Hispanics" at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

    • December 8

      Difference: On Representation and Sexuality, curated by Kate Linker and Jane Weinstock, opens at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibition explores sexuality as a cultural construct. 

       

      Artists' Call against U.S. Intervention in Central America, an ad hoc coalition organized by Lucy Lippard and others, mounts an exhibition at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York protesting US policy in Central America.

       

      Crack cocaine, a smokable form of the drug, is introduced into the Los Angeles area and soon spreads across the United States in what becomes known as the crack epidemic.

       

      Fredric Jameson publishes Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.

  • 1985


    • March 4

      The US Food and Drug Administration approves a blood test for HIV, used since then to screen all blood donations in the United States.

    • Spring

      Guerrilla Girls, a group of women artists who operate anonymously, is formed to fight sexism and racism in the art world.

    • October 4

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF), a nonprofit organization, is founded by Richard Stallman to support the free software movement.

    • October 18

      Nintendo Entertainment System releases its first home video game console in the United States.

    • November 20

      Microsoft releases its first operating system, Windows 1.0.

    • November 23

      The Art of Memory / The Loss of History, curated by William Olander, opens at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. 

       

      Andy Warhol appears as a guest on an episode of the TV series The Love Boat, in which a midwestern wife (Marion Ross) fears that the artist will reveal to her husband her secret past as a Warhol superstar named Marina del Rey.

       

      The Hetrick-Martin Institute founds the Harvey Milk High School, a public high school in New York's East Village designed for, though not limited to, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students, as well as those questioning their sexuality. 

  • 1986


    • January 20

      Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated as a national holiday for the first time.

    • January 28

      The space shuttle Challenger disintegrates seventy-three seconds after launch, killing the crew of seven astronauts, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe.

    • February 2

      TV Generations, the inaugural show at LACE's new location, opens. Cocurated by John Baldessari and Bruce Yonemoto, it includes more than forty-five artists working in diverse mediums. 

    • May 1

      The third edition of H. W. Janson's History of Art, a standard college art history textbook, includes women artists for the first time, adding nineteen to the nearly twenty-three hundred artists discussed.

    • June 21

      Curated by Brian Wallis, Damaged Goods: Desire and the Economy of the Object opens at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City. 

    • July 11

      Brokerage of Desire: Alan Belcher, Gretchen Bender, Anne Doran, Jeff Koons, Peter Nagy, Haim Steinbach, curated by Howard Halle and Walter Hopps, opens at Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design, Los Angeles. 

    • September 25

      Endgame: Reference and Simulation in Recent Painting and Sculpture, curated by Elisabeth Sussman and David Joselit, opens at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.

    • November 3

      The Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa reports that the United States has been selling weapons to Iran in violation of an arms embargo in order to raise money to be funneled to the anti-Sandinista movement in Nicaragua and to secure the release of seven American hostages held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon. 

  • 1987


    • March 4

      In a televised address, President Reagan takes full responsibility for the Iran-Contra affair.

    • March

      Outraged over the government's mismanagement of the AIDS crisis, concerned LGBT individuals in New York City unite to form the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, better known as ACT UP, at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New York.

    • March 20

      The US Food and Drug Administration approves the anti-AIDS drug AZT.

    • June 12

      President Reagan gives his "Tear down this wall" speech in West Berlin.

    • July

      The newly formed AIDS activist group ACT UP is invited by New Museum of Contemporary Art senior curator William Olander to create an installation in the museum's window at 583 Broadway. The now famous neon sign reading SILENCE = DEATH is displayed there as part of the installation Let the Record Show, which opens in November.

    • October 11

      The NAMES Project Memorial Quilt has its first public showing on the lawn of the National Mall in Washington, DC, two years after it was conceived by AIDS activist Cleve Jones. 

    • October 19

      Black Monday: A worldwide stock market crash, including a 508-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, signals the end of a period of economic exuberance and the beginning of a recession.

    • December 29

      The antidepressant medication Prozac makes its debut in the United States.

       

      Critical Art Ensemble is founded, focusing on the intersections between art, critical theory, technology, and political activism.

  • 1988


    • February 3

      The Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives rejects President Reagan's request for $36.25 million to support the Nicaraguan Contras.

    • August 20

      The Iran–Iraq War ends, with an estimated one million lives lost.

    • November 2

      The Morris worm, the first computer worm distributed via the Internet, written by Cornell University student Robert Tappan Morris, is launched from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

    • November 18

      President Reagan signs a bill approving the death penalty for murderous drug traffickers.

       

      NASA climate scientist James Hansen uses the phrase "global warming" in testimony to the US Congress, bringing the issue to public attention.

  • 1989


    • January 14

      Group Material closes the final exhibition in a series of four centered on the theme of democracy at Dia Art Foundation in New York City and in November presents its work AIDS Timeline at the Berkeley University Art Museum, MATRIX Gallery.

    • January 20

      George H. W. Bush succeeds Ronald Reagan as the forty-first president of the United States.

    • February 10

      Ron Brown is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, becoming the first African American to lead a major US political party.

    • March 14

      US president George H. W. Bush bans the importation of certain guns deemed assault weapons into the United States.

    • March 15

      Richard Serra's controversial public artwork Tilted Arc (1981) is dismantled by federal workers and taken for scrap.

    • April 1

      The Guerrilla Girls release a study revealing that of all the artists represented by thirty-three of the top New York City art galleries, only 16 percent are women. This figure is compared to the 49.2 percent of bus drivers, 48 percent of salespeople, 43 percent of managers, and 17 percent of truck drivers who are women.

    • May 7

      Forest of Signs: Art in the Crisis of Representation, curated by Ann Goldstein and Mary Jane Jacob, opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. 

    • May 18

      Curator Jean-Hubert Martin's exhibition Magiciens de la terre opens at the Centre Pompidou and the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris, bringing together the work of more than one hundred artists, only half of them from the West. 

    • June 4

      Student-led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in Beijing culminate in a massacre of the protesters by the army, covered live on television.

    • June 12

      The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, cancels its Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition after Senator Jesse Helms launches an attack on the exhibition.

    • September 5

      President George H. W. Bush holds up a bag of cocaine purchased across the street from the White House, at Lafayette Park, in his first televised speech to the nation.

    • November 7

      David Dinkins becomes the first African American mayor of New York City.

    • November 9

      Fall of the Berlin Wall.

    • December 3

      President Bush and Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev declare the Cold War over at the Malta Summit; a year later, the two former rivals are partners in the Gulf War against Iraq.

       

      Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association holds a press conference attacking what he called "anti-Christian bigotry" in an exhibition by the photographer Andres Serrano. 

       

      The Contemporary (Museum) in Baltimore is founded by George Ciscle. 

       

      Gran Fury's campaign Kissing Doesn't Kill appears on public transit billboards.

  • 1990


    • January 3

      General Manuel Noriega, the deposed "strongman of Panama," surrenders to American forces.

    • January 3

      Judith Butler publishes Gender Trouble.

    • January 18

      Washington, DC, Mayor Marion Barry is arrested for drug possession.

    • March

      The activist group Queer Nation is founded in New York City by members of ACT UP. 

    • March 18

      In the largest art theft in US history, twelve paintings, collectively worth $100 million to $300 million, are stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston by two thieves posing as police officers. The paintings have never been recovered.

    • March 24

      Exxon Valdez oil spill.

    • April 30

      Lebanese kidnappers release the American educator Frank H. Reed, who had been held hostage since September 1986. 

    • May 12

      Opening of The Decade Show, a collaboration between the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. The exhibition assesses artistic production in the 1980s.

    • May 17

      The World Health Organization removes homosexuality from its list of diseases. 

    • May 28

      Jenny Holzer is the first woman artist to represent the United States with a solo presentation at the Venice Biennale. She receives the Golden Lion award for best pavilion.

    • June

      Grants awarded to the performance artists Karen Finley, Tim Miller, John Fleck, and Holly Hughes—later dubbed the "NEA Four"—by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) are vetoed by director John Frohnmayer. 

    • June 1

      President George H. W. Bush and Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev sign a treaty to end chemical weapons production and begin destroying their respective stocks.

    • July 26

      President Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act, designed to protect disabled Americans from discrimination.

    • August 2

      The Gulf War begins; for the first time in such a conflict, there is live news coverage from the front lines.

    • August 6

      The United Nations Security Council orders a global trade embargo against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

    • October 6

      Dennis Barrie, director of Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center, is acquitted of obscenity charges after presenting Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs at the museum.

  • 1991


    • January 12

      The US Congress passes a resolution authorizing the use of military force to liberate Kuwait, resulting in Operation Desert Storm.

    • February 27

      President Bush declares victory over Iraq and orders a cease-fire.

    • November 24

      Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury dies of complications of AIDS.

    • December 25

      Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev resigns. The following day the dissolution of the USSR is formally acknowledged by the Soviet of Republics of the Supreme Soviet.

       

      The collective of queer women artists known as Fierce Pussy is formed.

       

      The artist Wolfgang Staehle founds The Thing, an online art salon. 

       

      Ads for the clothing company Benetton designed by Oliviero Toscani take up topics such as HIV/AIDS. In response, some stores refuse to stock the products.

  • 1992


    • January 8

      President Bush is televised falling violently ill at a state dinner in Japan, vomiting into the lap of Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa and fainting.

    • January 26

      Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s, curated by Paul Schimmel, opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The exhibition focuses on the dark side of contemporary life.

    • May 4

      In Simi Valley, a jury acquits four LAPD police officers accused of excessive force in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King, causing riots in Los Angeles and leading to fifty-three deaths and $1 billion in damage. 

    • May 22

      After thirty years, Johnny Carson hosts The Tonight Show for the last time. 

    • June 29

      The US Supreme Court upholds the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a five-to-four decision.

    • July 22

      David Wojnarowicz dies of AIDS-related causes. 

    • September 13

      Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña premier The Year of the White Bear and Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit the West at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

    • October 3

      After performing a song protesting alleged child abuse by the Catholic Church, Sinéad O'Connor rips up a photo of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live, causing huge controversy.

    • October 10

      Tens of thousands rally in Washington, DC, calling on the government to dedicate more funding to combating HIV/AIDS.

    • November 3

      Bill Clinton is elected the forty-second president of the United States.

    • December 15

      Hip-hop producer and rapper Dr. Dre releases his solo debut studio album, The Chronic.

    • December 24

      President Bush pardons six national security officials implicated in the Iran-Contra affair, including Caspar Weinberger.

       

      Co-organized with the Contemporary, Baltimore, Fred Wilson's Mining the Museum, curated by Lisa Corrin and Jennifer Goldsborough, opens at the Maryland Historical Society.

  • 1993


    • January 28

      The feminist performance artist Hannah Wilke dies of lymphoma. She documented her treatment for the disease in her series INTRA-VENUS (1992–93).

    • March

      The 1993 Whitney Biennial, which becomes notorious as the "political" biennial, opens. It is curated by Elisabeth Sussman with Thelma Golden, John Hanhardt, and Lisa Phillips. 

    • June 13

      The Venice Biennale opens. Hans Haacke's installation for the German Pavilion, titled Germania, makes explicit reference to the biennale's roots in the politics of fascist Italy and specifically to the pavilion's history as a site of national representation under Nazism.

    • June 27

      US president Bill Clinton orders a cruise missile attack on Iraqi intelligence headquarters in the Al-Mansur District of Baghdad in response to an Iraqi plot to assassinate former US president George H. W. Bush during his visit to Kuwait in mid-April.

    • September 11

      What Happened to the Institutional Critique?, an exhibition curated by James Meyer, opens at American Fine Arts, Co., in New York's SoHo. 

    • December 8

      President Clinton signs into law the North American Free Trade Agreement.

  • 1994


    • January 14

      The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York presents the exhibition Bad Girls, a survey of contemporary feminist art curated by Marcia Tucker. The Wight Gallery at the University of California, Los Angeles, mounts a concurrent exhibition, Bad Girls West, curated by Marcia Tanner.

    • February 28

      The "Don't ask, don't tell" policy goes into effect. The directive acknowledges the participation of gays and lesbians in the US military but continues to place restrictions on their participation. Openly gay or lesbian soldiers are discharged without honorable leave.

    • March 7

      The US Supreme Court rules that parodies of an original work are generally covered by the doctrine of fair use in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., based on 2 Live Crew's parody of "Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison.

    • April 8

      Kurt Cobain, lead singer of the band Nirvana, is found dead at his Seattle home, apparently of a single self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    • September 13

      President Clinton signs the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which bans the manufacture of certain semiautomatic weapons for civilians for a period of ten years. 

    • September 13

      The Violence Against Women Act is signed by President Clinton. The act provides $1.6 billion toward the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allows civil redress in cases prosecutors choose to leave unprosecuted.

    • November 10

      Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art, curated by Thelma Golden, opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

       

      America Online offers access to the World Wide Web for the first time. This marks the beginning of easy accessibility of the web to the larger public.

  • 1995


    • March 1

      Yahoo! is founded in Santa Clara, California.

    • April 7

      US House Republicans celebrate passage of most of the "Contract with America."

    • April 19

      A truck bomb planted by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols kills 168 people, including eight federal marshals and nineteen children, at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

    • October 3

      A jury declares O. J. Simpson not guilty in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The verdict is seen live on TV by more than half the US population, making it one of the most watched events in American TV history.

    • November 1

      The US House of Representatives passes the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, outlawing intact dilation-and-extraction abortions. President Clinton vetoes the bill in 1996.

    • November 14

      A budget standoff between Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress forces the federal government to temporarily close national parks and museums. Most government offices are run by skeleton staff.

  • 1996


    • January

      Google's search engine (originally called BackRub) launches as a result of a research project undertaken by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, graduate students at Stanford University.

    • January 9

      The artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres dies of AIDS-related complications.

    • April 24

      Sexual Politics: Judy Chicago's "Dinner Party" in Feminist Art History, curated by Amelia Jones, opens at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

    • May 20

      Romer v. Evans: The US Supreme Court rules against a law that prevents any city, town, or county in the state of Colorado from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to protect the rights of homosexuals.

    • July 5

      Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be successfully cloned from an adult cell, is born.

    • August 23

      Osama bin Laden publishes "The Declaration of Jihad on the Americans Occupying the Country of the Two Sacred Places," a call for the removal of American military forces from Saudi Arabia.

    • September 3

      The United States launches Operation Desert Strike against Iraq in reaction to Iraqi attacks on the city of Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.

    • September 21

      The Defense of Marriage Act is enacted. The law denies certain federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. 

    • September 30

      The US Congress passes an amendment that bars anyone convicted of even misdemeanor-level domestic violence from obtaining and possessing firearms.

    • October 3

      The Vagina Monologues is first performed by Eve Ensler at HERE Arts Center in New York's SoHo.

    • December 2

      President Clinton signs the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments.

  • 1997


    • January 20

      President Clinton is inaugurated for his second term.

    • March 4

      President Clinton bans federal funding for any research on human cloning.

    • April 30

      Ellen DeGeneres's character comes out as gay on the show Ellen, making her the first openly gay character on a popular TV show.

    • May 16

      President Clinton issues a formal apology to the surviving victims of the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis, a clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the US Public Health Service to monitor the natural progression of untreated syphilis in rural African American men who thought they were receiving free health care from the US government.

    • June 15

      Robert Colescott is the first African American to represent the United States in a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

    • July 4

      Mars Pathfinder lands on the surface of Mars.

    • October 16

      The first color photograph appears on the front page of the New York Times.

    • October 24

      The Toyota Prius, the first hybrid vehicle, is unveiled in Japan.

    • December 19

      Titanic becomes the first film to gross $1 billion at the box office.

  • 1998


    • January 26

      On American television, President Clinton denies having had "sexual relations" with "that woman," former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He later admits that he had an "improper physical relationship" with Lewinsky and misled the public.

    • February

      The US Senate passes Resolution 71, urging President Clinton to "take all necessary and appropriate actions to respond to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."

    • February 10

      Voters in Maine repeal a gay-rights law passed in 1997, making it the first state to abandon such a law.

    • March 4

      In Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, the US Supreme Court rules that federal laws banning on-the-job sexual harassment also apply when both parties are the same sex.

    • September 4

      Google, Inc., is founded in Menlo Park, California.

    • September 29

      The US Congress passes the Iraq Liberation Act, which states that the United States wants to remove Saddam Hussein from power and replace the government with a democratic institution.

    • October 6

      Matthew Shepard is beaten, pistol-whipped, tied to a fence, and left to die in a gay-bashing hate crime near Laramie, Wyoming. He dies on October 12 from his injuries.

    • October 12

      The US Congress passes the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

    • November 20

      In Texas, John Lawrence and Tyrone Garner are fined $125 each after being arrested for having sex in their home. They refuse to pay the fine, resulting in a challenge of the state's sodomy law, which eventually leads to the 2003 nationwide repeal of such laws in Lawrence v. Texas.

    • November 28

      In Allston, Massachusetts, Rita Hester, a transgender woman of color, is murdered. The ensuing candlelight vigil a few days later inspires the Transgender Day of Remembrance, observed worldwide each November 20.

    • December 16

      President Clinton orders airstrikes on Iraq. 

    • December 19

      President Clinton is impeached by the US House of Representatives on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. On February 12, 1999, he is acquitted by the US Senate. 

  • 1999


    • April 20

      Two Colorado teenagers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, open fire on their teachers and classmates at Columbine High School in Littleton, killing twelve students and one teacher before killing themselves.

    • December 20

      The Vermont Supreme Court grants homosexual partners the same rights and protections that married heterosexuals have.

  • 2000


    • January 26

      The rap-metal band Rage Against the Machine plays on Wall Street, prompting an early closing of trading due to the crowds. 

    • May 15

      In United States v. Morrison, a sharply divided US Supreme Court strikes down the Violence Against Women Act provision allowing women the right to sue their attackers in federal court. By a five-to-four majority, the court overturns the provision as an intrusion on states' rights.

    • June 28

      The US Supreme Court rules that the Boy Scouts of America does not have to follow state antidiscrimination laws when it comes to sexual orientation.

    • November 7

      Hillary Rodham Clinton is elected to the US Senate, becoming the first "first lady" of the United States to win public office.

    • November 7

      Republican candidate George W. Bush defeats his Democratic rival, Al Gore, in the closest presidential election in history, although the final outcome is not known for more than a month because of disputed votes in Florida.

    • December 12

      In Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court stops the Florida presidential recount, effectively giving the state, and the presidency, to George W. Bush.

  • 2001


    • January 15

      Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, launches.

    • January 22

      The Bush administration reinstates the Mexico City Policy, which requires nongovernment organizations to agree, as a condition of their receipt of US federal funding, that they will neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.

    • June 11

      Timothy McVeigh is executed for carrying out the Oklahoma City bombing.

    • September 11

      American Airlines flight 11 and United Airlines flight 175 are hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center's twin towers. American Airlines flight 77 is hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon, and United Airlines flight 93 is hijacked and crashed into grassland in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, as the passengers fight to regain control of the airplane. A total of 2,996 people are killed in the attacks, which were carried out by the Islamic terrorist group Al Qaeda. 

    • September 18

      Letters containing anthrax spores are mailed from Princeton, New Jersey, to ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, the New York Post, and the National Enquirer. Twenty-two people are exposed, and five die.

    • October 7

      In an effort to dismantle Al Qaeda, which was receiving support from the Afghan Taliban, the United States launches airstrikes against Afghanistan.

    • October 23

      The iPod is introduced by Apple.

    • October 26

      President Bush signs the Patriot Act into law.

  • 2002


    • January 8

      The No Child Left Behind Act is signed into law by President Bush.

    • October 18

      Touch: Relational Art from the 1990s to Now, curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, opens at the San Francisco Art Institute. The exhibition argues that a young generation of artists is creating a new type of interactive art. 

  • 2003


    • February 15

      As the United States and allied forces move closer to war with Iraq, more than ten million people in more than six hundred cities worldwide participate in antiwar protests. 

    • March 20

      The Iraq War begins with the invasion of Iraq.

    • April 14

      The Human Genome Project is completed, with 99 percent of the human genome sequenced to 99.99 percent accuracy.

    • June 4

      Martha Stewart and her broker are indicted for using privileged investment information and then obstructing a federal investigation. Stewart resigns as chairperson and chief executive officer of Martha Stewart Living.

    • June 23

      The Supreme Court rules on the University of Michigan's affirmative action case, voting to uphold the right of universities to consider race in admissions procedures in order to achieve a diverse student body.

    • September 17

      President Bush concedes that there is no evidence linking Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to the September 11, 2001, attacks.

    • October 7

      California voters recall Governor Gray Davis from office and elect the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to succeed him.

    • November 5

      The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is signed into law by President Bush.

    • November 25

      President Bush signs the Homeland Security Act into law, establishing the Department of Homeland Security.

    • December 13

      Saddam Hussein is captured on a farm near Tikrit during Operation Red Dawn.

    • December 24

      An outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or "mad cow disease," in Washington State is announced. Several countries—including Brazil, Australia, and Taiwan—ban the import of beef from the United States.

  • 2004


    • February 1

      A halftime show featuring Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake at the Super Bowl creates controversy, prompting the Federal Communications Commission to increase its fines for indecency violations.

    • February 3

      The CIA admits that there was no imminent threat from weapons of mass destruction before the invasion of Iraq.

    • February 4

      Facebook launches.

    • February 12

      In an act of civil disobedience, city officials in San Francisco start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of state law by marrying Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon in the first known civil marriage of a same-sex couple in the country. 

    • April

      The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib by US military personnel comes to wide public attention.

    • May 11

      Steve Kurtz, founding member of Critical Art Ensemble, awakens to find that his wife has died in her sleep. Because of the group's interest in biotechnology, Kurtz is arrested on suspicion of bioterrorism, sparking outrage among artists and scientists. 

    • May 12

      An American civilian contractor in Iraq, Nick Berg, is shown being decapitated by a group allegedly linked to Al Qaeda on an Internet-distributed video. The group states that his murder is in retaliation for the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison.

    • May 17

      Massachusetts becomes the first state to legally issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and perform same-sex marriages.

    • October 29

      A videotape of Osama bin Laden airs on Arabic TV, in which he threatens further terrorist attacks on the United States and taunts President Bush over the September 11 attacks.

    • November 2

      George W. Bush wins a second term as president, defeating John Kerry.

    • December 19

      The artist Gretchen Bender dies of cancer.

  • 2005


    • February 10

      North Korea announces that it possesses nuclear weapons.

    • April 23

      YouTube is launched.

    • June 12

      Maria de Corral and Rosa Martinez curate the fifty-first Venice Biennale, marking the first time in the exhibition's 110-year history that a woman (in this case, two women) is selected as curator.

    • August 29–30

      Hurricane Katrina strikes areas of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, killing 1,836 and causing severe damage along the Gulf Coast. Katrina becomes the costliest hurricane in US history, with $108 billion in damage.

    • September 24

      Worldwide protests occur against the Iraq War, with more than 150,000 demonstrating in Washington, DC.

    • October 24

      The civil rights activist Rosa Parks dies.

    • November 13

      Andrew Stimpson, a twenty-five-year-old British man, is reportedly the first person to have been cured of HIV.

  • 2006


    • January 31

      Two federal appeals courts uphold rulings that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, passed by the US Congress in 2003, is unconstitutional because it does not include an exception when the health of a pregnant woman is at risk.

    • July 15

      Twitter is launched.

    • September 5

      Katie Couric becomes the first female solo anchor of the CBS Evening News.

    • October 10

      Google buys YouTube for $1.65 billion.

    • November 5

      Charged with crimes against humanity and genocide, Saddam Hussein is sentenced to death by hanging and is executed on December 30.

  • 2007


    • January 4

      Nancy Pelosi becomes the first female Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

    • January 9

      Apple, Inc.'s CEO and founder, Steve Jobs, announces the first-generation iPhone.

    • April 16

      Seung-Hui Cho, a South Korean expatriate student, shoots and kills thirty-two people at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University before committing suicide, resulting in the deadliest shooting incident by a single gunman in US history.

    • July 21

      The final book in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is released and sells more than eleven million copies in the first twenty-four hours, becoming the fastest-selling book in history.

    • November 5

      The Writers Guild of America commences a strike against television and movie production studios.

  • 2008


    • January 15

      The US Food and Drug Administration declares that food from cloned cattle, swine, goats, and their progeny is safe to eat.

    • August 29

      Republican presidential candidate John McCain chooses Sarah Palin as his running mate.

    • September 15

      Lehman Brothers, then the fourth-largest investment bank in the United States, declares bankruptcy, the largest filing in history, marking the beginning of a global financial crisis.

    • October 3

      President Bush signs the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act into law, creating a $700 billion Treasury fund to purchase failing bank assets.

    • November 4

      Barack Obama is elected the forty-fourth president of the United States and becomes the first African American president-elect.

    • November 4

      California voters ban same-sex marriage with Proposition 8, becoming the first state to do so after marriages had been legalized for same-sex couples.

       

      Los Angeles's Museum of Contemporary Art nearly collapses as its onetime $38.2 million endowment drops to $5 million in the global financial meltdown.

  • 2009


    • January 20

      More than one million people attend the inauguration of US president Barack Obama.

    • January 21

      Hillary Rodham Clinton is sworn in as the new secretary of state, becoming the first former first lady to serve in a president's cabinet.

    • January 22

      President Obama signs executive orders to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp within one year and to prohibit torture in terrorism interrogations.

    • March 9

      President Obama overturns a Bush-era policy that limited federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. He promises that human cloning will be banned.

    • April 24

      The World Health Organization calls the reported cases of swine flu in Mexico and the United States a "public health emergency of international concern."

    • June 25

      The American entertainer Michael Jackson dies.

    • July 7

      A memorial service for Michael Jackson is broadcast live around the world, with an estimated audience of one billion.

    • August 4

      The North Korean leader Kim Jong-il pardons two American journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, who had been arrested and imprisoned for illegal entry earlier in the year.

    • October 1

      The US unemployment rate reaches 10 percent, the highest since 1983.

    • October 9

      President Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

    • October 28

      President Obama signs the Matthew Shepard Act, which expands federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, the first US federal law to extend legal protections to transgender persons.

    • November 19

      Oprah Winfrey announces that she will end her long-running talk show in 2011, after its twenty-fifth season.

  • 2010


    • March 7

      Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win the Academy Award for best director.

    • March 23

      The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—commonly referred to as Obamacare—is signed into law by President Obama.

    • April 20

      An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico kills eleven workers and triggers the largest accidental marine oil spill in history, releasing 4.9 million barrels of oil for eighty-seven days, before it is finally capped.

    • July 8

      US district court judge Joseph L. Tauro rules in two separate cases that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

    • July 25

      WikiLeaks—an online publisher of anonymous, covert, and classified material—leaks to the public more than ninety thousand internal reports about the US-led involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

    • August 31

      President Barack Obama declares an end to combat operations in Iraq.

    • November 9

      The San Francisco Board of Supervisors bans Happy Meal toys, served by McDonald's, because of concerns about obesity in children.

    • November 30

      David Wojnarowicz's video A Fire in My Belly (1986–87) is removed from the exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery under pressure from the National Catholic League and Republican congressional leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor, prompting protests from many in the contemporary art world.

    • December 22

      President Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act into law.

       

      Jeffrey Deitch, a New York City art dealer, becomes director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

       

      The oldest existing LGBT organization in the United States, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, merges with the University of Southern California Libraries to form the largest repository of LGBT materials in the world.

  • 2011


    • March 17

      The US House of Representatives cuts all federal funding for National Public Radio.

    • March 18

      NASA's Messenger becomes the first spacecraft to establish an orbit around Mercury.

    • April 27

      Responding to continued coverage by the mainstream media of citizenship conspiracy theories, President Obama releases his long-form birth certificate.

    • May 1

      President Obama announces that Osama bin Laden, the founder and leader of the militant group Al Qaeda, has been killed during an American military operation in Pakistan.

    • May 26

      The US Supreme Court upholds the Arizona state law that imposes financial penalties on businesses that hire illegal aliens.

    • June 27

      The US Supreme Court strikes down a California law that bans the sale of certain violent video games to children without parental supervision. The court upholds the lower-court decisions and revokes the law, ruling that video games are protected speech under the First Amendment.

    • August 5

      NASA announces that its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured photographic evidence of possible liquid water on Mars during warm seasons.

    • September 17

      Occupy Wall Street protests begin in New York City's Wall Street financial district. This develops into the Occupy movement, which spreads to eighty-two countries by October.

    • October 5

      Apple, Inc., founder Steve Jobs dies of pancreatic cancer at the age of fifty-six. 

    • November 18

      During an Occupy movement demonstration at the University of California, Davis, university police pepper-spray a group of demonstrators as they are seated on a paved path in the campus quad, sparking criticism of excessive force against students.

    • November 21

      The US national debt tops the gross domestic product for the first time since the late 1940s.

    • December 15

      The United States formally declares an end to the Iraq War. 

  • 2012


    • January 1

      California adds the historical contributions of sexual minorities and the disabled to its school curriculum.

    • January 31

      Los Angeles contemporary artist Mike Kelley dies at fifty-seven. 

    • March 13

      After 244 years of publishing, the Encyclopædia Britannica discontinues its print edition.

    • April 25

      The NEA makes sweeping cuts in its support of established PBS shows. Instead, the endowment awards large grants to an array of gaming and web-based projects.

    • May 9

      Barack Obama becomes the first sitting US president to announce support for gay marriage.

    • June

      In Los Angeles, longtime Museum of Contemporary Art chief curator Paul Schimmel is forced to resign. Several days later, the artists John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Catherine Opie, and Ed Ruscha resign from the museum's board.

    • August 6

      Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory mission's rover, successfully lands on Mars.

    • August 16

      An outbreak of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus kills 243 people.

    • October 15

      The artist Michael Asher, a pioneer of institutional critique, dies at sixty-nine.

    • October 18

      The American weekly newsmagazine Newsweek announces that it will cease print publication on December 31 and will move to an online-only format.

    • November 6

      Barack Obama is reelected president of the United States, defeating Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

    • November 6

      Washington and Colorado become the first states to legalize marijuana. 

    • December 14

      Twenty-seven people, including twenty children, are killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

  • 2013


    • January 15

      New York becomes the first state to pass a gun control law since the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The new law bans possession of high-capacity magazines and requires background checks and a state registry for assault-class weapons.

    • February 28

      The US House of Representatives passes the Senate's version of the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, which was opposed by conservative Republicans who objected to extending the act's protections to same-sex couples and to provisions allowing battered undocumented individuals to claim temporary visas. 

    • March 9

      Google agrees to pay a $7 million penalty to settle an investigation into the collection of e-mails, passwords, and other personal information from unwitting computer users in connection with its Street View mapping project. 

    • April 15

      Two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon leave 3 people dead and 260 injured.

    • May

      The first articles reporting on classified US government documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden are published, revealing several secret surveillance programs. 

    • May 23

      The Boy Scouts of America lifts its long-standing ban on gay youth members. 

    • May 29

      The Youth Equality Act, which bars tax-exempt organizations from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, passes in the California Senate.

    • June 26

      The US Supreme Court rules that supporters of California Proposition 8 did not have legal standing in federal court, allowing same-sex marriages to resume in California.

    • July 24

      Jeffrey Deitch, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, announces his resignation. 

    • October 1–16

      The US government shuts down after Congress fails to pass legislation to appropriate funds for the fiscal year.

    • November 8

      Typhoon Haiyan, with winds close to two hundred miles per hour, smashes into the Philippines, displacing millions of people and killing more than five thousand in that country alone. 

    • November 13

      Francis Bacon's painting Three Studies of Lucien Freud (1969) sells at Christie's auction house in New York City for more than $142 million, the highest price to date for an artwork sold at auction.

Chicago Manual of Style
citation for this page
"Chronology." Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology Digital Archive. Los Angeles: Hammer Museum, 2017. https://​hammer.ucla.edu/​take-it-or-leave-it/​research/​chronology/​.