Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

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The Great Experiment: George Washington and the American Republic

Signage for exhibition in front of gallery, 1999, photo by John Hazeltine

One of the most extensive exhibits ever undertaken on the life of George Washington will open at the Huntington Library on October 6, 1998. "The Great Experiment: George Washington and the American Republic" will continue through May 30, 1999 and then will travel to the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City where it will be on view until the end of that year. "The Great Experiment" commemorates the 200th anniversary of Washington' s death.

The exhibit will include about 130 manuscripts, rare printed documents, objects, and artworks tracing Washmgton's personal development from frontiersman to general to president. Among the items are Washington's hand-written letters and family tree, a first printing of the Declaration of Independence, a 1787 edition of the Constitution inscribed by Benjamin Franklin, and the portraits used to put Washington's likeness on the dollar bill and twenty-five cent piece. Visitors will also see Martha Washington' s personal effects and letters, and during the last three months of exhibit, Washington's famous dentures.

The exhibition materials draw on the collections of the Huntington Library, the Pierpont Morgan Library, and the Gilder Lehrman Collection. The Gilder Lehrman Collection, is the finest private holding of American historic documents. The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History and Mount Vernon are also contributing important items.

Top to bottom: Gilbert Stuart, George Washington; after Charles Willson Peale, George Washington before Princeton, c. 1780, images ©Huntington Art Collections.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 11/26/10

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