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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

The Art and Historical Exhibits of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

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The Art and Historical Exhibits of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution. It holds one of the largest collections of art, from the American colonial period to the present. The museum has more than 7,000 artists represented in the collection. The museum’s main building is the old Patent Office Building which it shares with the National Portrait Gallery. Craft-focused exhibitions are shown in the Renwick Gallery.

Art and Historical Exhibits of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

  • “Skating in Central Park” by Agnes Tait
    • “Skating in Central Park” by Agnes Tait is a large, festive scene of winter revellers in Central Park, New York City. It depicts skaters and sledders on the frozen lake and on the snowy slopes of the park. It is late afternoon, the sun is setting behind the Manhattan skyline, and the contrast between the snow and the dark branches of the bare trees is delightful.
  • “Buffalo Hunt on the Southwestern Prairies” by John Mix Stanley
    • “Buffalo Hunt on the Southwestern Prairies” by John Mix Stanley depicts the American West and the Native American life in a highly naturalistic depiction. Stanley was an artist-explorer, a painter of landscapes and Native American portraits and tribal life. Unfortunately, over 200 of Stanley’s paintings, which were being held at the Smithsonian were lost in an 1865 fire. This significant loss of most of his works makes this portrayal of the American West highly valued.
  • “Surrender of a Confederate Soldier” by Julian Scott
    • “Surrender of a Confederate Soldier” by Julian Scott depicts a wounded soldier of the Confederate States Army in the American Civil War waiving a flag of surrender. The soldier is accompanied by a black man, presumed to be the soldier’s slave, and a woman holding an infant assumed to be his wife and child. The painting does not glorify war, and instead, it shows the suffering and human sacrifice associated with war.
  • “Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way” by Emanuel Leutze
    • “Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way” by Emanuel Leutze is a painted study of a massive painted mural currently displayed behind the western staircase of the House of Representatives chamber in the United States Capitol Building.  The picture depicts a group of pioneers on their journey westward as they catch their first glimpse of the “promised land” of California.

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“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow.
The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

– Abraham Lincoln

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Photo Credit: JOM

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