Mint Museum of Craft + Design

Mint Museum of Art

Mint Museum of Craft + Design

Charlotte, NC



Art of the United States


The reinstallation of the permanent collection at Charlotte's Mint Museum of Art, under the theme Art in the Americas, is now complete with the opening of the wing housing the Art of the United States. The art history of the western hemisphere, from ancient pre-Columbian cultures through the Spanish Colonial era to the emergence of New York City as a world art leader, is now on display.

The presentation of Art of the United States takes as its core idea the integral part that the visual arts have played in the history of the country. The concept o fart as historical text provides the galleries their purpose, direction and coherence. To achieve this end, the galleries present four comprehensive thematic groupings.

James Clonney, Offering Baby a Rose c. 1850

"This approach allowed us to present our collection within the larger discourse of American history and culture," stated Todd Smith, Mint Curator of American Art. "The four themes are the transatlantic experience; creating a new nation; defining a new Eden and chronicling the modern."

The transatlantic experience reflects the disparate regional styles present within the museum's collections of English, colonial and early national art. "The transatlantic experience did not end with the formation of the United States," said Smith. "Rather the dialogue between parties on all sides of the ocean continued throughout the nineteenth century with landscape movements, into the early twentieth century with modernism and well into the contemporary period."


Jerome Tompson, Noonday in Summer, 1852

The theme creating a new nation focuses on the place of the visual arts in debates about nationalism and nation-building, Additionally, this section will introduce how the production of gold coins at the Charlotte federal mint was central to the building of a national currency and identity. Similar to the transatlantic experience, the theme of art and nationalism extends well beyond the early years of the American experiment. Art and national identity have always experienced an important relationship. The reinstalled wing makes special note of how this relationship has changed over the centuries.

Defining a New Eden looks at how the American love of the land and its identity has been formed through representations of the natural world. From Mark Catesby through Andrew Wyeth, the holdings ofthe Mint explore the varied approaches and uses of the landscape by artists and patrons. Smith encourages us to consider how landscape painting served aesthetic, political and economic interests throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

H. Siddons Mowbray, Rose Harvest, c. 1887

And finally, chronicling the modern explores America's love of storytelling, and the role which art has played in capturing, reflecting and transforming the contemporary stories it chooses to tell. From history paintings by Benjamin West through the collage work of Romare Bearden, this theme charts the ways in which artists have documented and represented the world around them - from the grand to the anecdotal.

"The four overarching themes were chosen based on the current strengths of our collection but also because these concepts intersect with one another at various points in the history of American art and American culture," added Smith. "And while certain works may be placed specifically in one gallery, this does not preclude them from forming a vital element to another theme."

The reinstalled galleries also allow for other thematic presentations. The history of North Carolina, its art and its culture, form an important secondary theme which can be traced throughout the collection. The history of African-American artistic production will have a stronger presence in the reinstalled galleries.

"While there are four grand narratives to be found in the galleries, many other, equally significant groupings can be made by our visitors, if not physically then at least intellectually," said Smith.

While old favorites are still on view, their placement might come as a surprise, albeit a pleasant and enlightening one, to longtime gallery-goers.

rev. 11/26/10

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