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George Washington: A National Treasure

 

The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery continues its most important and ambitious touring exhibition to date: "George Washington: A National Treasure." The multi-city tour celebrating our nation's first president - the man, the icon, the hero - arrived at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts on August 1, 2003 and will be on view through November 30, 2003.

 

Portrait of Heroism

The iconic portrait of George Washington, painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1796, is also known as the Lansdowne portrait. The portrait is a true national treasure, one whose historical and cultural importance has been compared to that of the Liberty Bell and the Declaration of Independence. In addition to providing funds to keep this treasure at the National Portrait Gallery, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation has allowed for this first-ever national tour of the portrait, as well as educational materials, accompanying programs, and the creation of a special gallery at the National Portrait Gallery, where it will make its permanent home in Washington, D.C. following the tour.

"George Washington ­ and the heroism, patriotism, and self-sacrifice he embodied - is one of America's most precious treasures," said Marc Pachter, director of the National Portrait Gallery. "As the tour travels, it's been inspiring to see how Americans from across the country respond to the show. Washington's legacy and example may never have been as relevant as it is today."

 

Map of Our Nation

"George Washington: A National Treasure" represents a once-in-a-lifetime chance for millions of Americans to see this famous icon - one of the most significant visual documents of the founding of our nation - first-hand. The tour is traveling to eight cities across the nation through 2004. The tour has already stopped in Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Seattle; after Minneapolis, it will travel to Oklahoma City, Little Rock, and New York City.

Education is a key component of this inspiring exhibition. The National Portrait Gallery has developed an expansive educational initiative that brings both the portrait and the man behind the image to life. The educational element of the tour has reached people of all ages in the venue cities and nationally. Each venue has been provided funds for free educational programming such as teacher workshops, brochures, family days, public lectures and bussing for schoolchildren.

The National Portrait Gallery is bringing the image of the painting to every state with its 50-state initiative chaired by Secretary of Education Rod Paige. The goal of this program is to distribute free educational materials to teachers and students in each state so that a new generation may learn about George Washington. Additionally, visitors may experience the Lansdowne online at www.georgewashington.si.edu. The Web site will serve as a resource for teachers, offering an array of free teaching materials at all grade levels. It will also serve history buffs, parents and children who would like to learn more about the man, the portrait and the country. The Web site will perform as an interactive teacher, allowing guests to download information, participate in online programs and order educational materials for the classroom.

 

About the Portrait

Painted by Gilbert Stuart, the most prestigious portraitist of his day, the 207-year-old painting has a storied past. A fixture in Washington since 1968, the painting actually belonged to a prominent British family until very recently. In spring 2001, the National Portrait Gallery rescued the portrait from potential auction thanks to a generous $30 million gift from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. This gift ­ as much an act of patriotism as of philanthropy ­ has allowed the National Portrait Gallery to preserve the iconic work for future generations.

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