Art Museum offers
premier Revolutionary War exhibit
than 200 period items
and replicas on display in Louisville
Helen E. McKinney
LOUISIVLLE, Ky. (November 2008) Encouraged
by such men as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, artist John Trumbull
began a series of history paintings in 1786 that would have a lasting
effect more than 200 years later. By recording key events associated
with the American Revolution, Trumbull set the stage for a new exhibit
to be showcased at the Speed Art Museum and collaboration between the
museum and the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
by Helen E. Mckinney
of American Revolutionary
War soldiers are part of the Yale
University Art Gallery exhibit on
display at the Speed Art
Museum in Louisville.
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American
Art from the Yale University Art Gallery is an exhibit comprised
of more than 200 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, furniture,
silver and ceramics from Yale Universitys renowned collection
of 18th and 19th century American fine and decorative arts. It is considered
to be one of the finest American collections ever created, said
Kirsten Popp, Public Information Associate for the Speed Art Museum.
The exhibit will be at the museum through Jan. 4, 2009 and highlights
include works by Winslow Homer, John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson
Peale and Thomas Eakins. A magnificent pair of silver candlesticks crafted
by Jeremiah Dummer, thought to be the oldest surviving pair of American
candlesticks in existence, are included in the exhibit, said Popp. Works
of another famous Revolutionary War era silversmith, Paul Revere, will
also be on display.
Trumbull was well known among a certain elite set in the Revolutionary
War period, said Ruth Cloudman, chief curator for the museum.
Trumbull was the son of the governor of Connecticut, knew many leaders
of the Revolution and was second aide-de-camp to Gen. George Washington.
His eight Revolutionary War paintings are included in the exhibition,
which have never left the Yale University Art Gallery as a group.
When staff at the Speed Art Museum learned that Yale University Art
Gallery was closing for renovation and considering traveling their American
collection, they thought it would be a great fit for the Louisville
It is one of the finest collections of American art in existence,
said Cloudman. Bringing this extraordinary show to Louisville
honors the museums mission to bring great art to our communities
as the Commonwealths No. 1 venue for international art exhibitions.
The Speed Art Museum and the National Society of the Sons
of the American Revolution are collaborating through educational programming
and joint tours for schoolchildren and adults. Together these
two institutions offer a more complete educational experience, offering
unique opportunities for visitors to explore Americas past,
The National Headquarters of the National Society of the Sons of the
American Revolution is located at 1000 S. Fourth St. in Louisville.
The building also contains a genealogical library and museum gallery
complete with many rare artifacts from the colonial period.
Membership in the Sons of the American Revolution requires that ones
lineal descent from a participant on the American side in the Revolution
be verified by official documents or valid evidence.
The SARs genealogical research library is available at no cost
to members of the SAR, and to the public for $3 per day. It is a rich
resource for studying family history. One can gain inspiration from
the Speed Art Museum exhibit and in turn carry out their own family
research for colonial ancestors at the SAR National Headquarters.
The museum gallery of the National Headquarters contains many large
reproduction paintings similar to those by Trumbull on display at the
Speed Art Museum. Many of the works of art were donated through members,
said Colleen Wilson, Director of Education for the SAR Foundation Inc.
Other paintings were commissioned and paid for by members of the organization,
said Joe Harris, the SARs executive director.
In fact, the museum has outgrown its current home and plans to move
to a larger facility. In an effort to expand, Wilson said the National
Headquarters for the SAR has purchased two buildings on Main Street
in Louisville in an area known as Museum Row. A tentative relocation
and opening date is 2011 in a building located near the Louisville Slugger
and Frazier Arms museums.
by Helen E. Mckinney
portrait of President George Washington
is among the items
featured in the
Included for display at the SAR National Headquarters
is a Valley Forge Drill Manual, Washingtons seal ring and a 2,000
pound replica of the Liberty Bell. Wilson said 16 United States presidents
have been members of the SAR, as well as Winston Churchill and Spains
King Juan Carlos.
The genealogical library contains 40,000 volumes and manuscripts, with
1,200 volumes of these volumes about Washington. The society was formed
in 1889 and carries a strong educational outreach mission.
The SAR has branched out into different ceremonies over the years. These
include grave markings and flag retirement ceremonies. Once a year,
the SAR holds a naturalization ceremony.
This years ceremony was held Friday, Oct. 24, at the Louisville
Memorial Auditorium. Last year, more than 40 different countries were
represented in this formal ceremony, said Wilson.
Harris said that after such ceremonies and tours of the SAR museum gallery,
he hopes visitors will understand that there was a struggle for
independence and that it is this independence, which we, as a nation,
enjoy today. Common and affluent folk alike risked their lives
for the cause of freedom, he added.
The struggles associated with the American Revolution helped design
the form of government we have today, said Harris. Its based
upon things we often take for granted, such as the Bill of Rights, he
A trip to the SAR National Headquarters or a visit to the Speed Art
Museums exhibit will stir up patriotic feelings and reinforce
For more information about the Speed Art
Museum exhibit, contact Kirsten Popp at (502) 634-2700 or visit: www.speedmuseum.org.
For more information on the National Headquarters of the Sons of the
American Revolution, call (502) 589-1776 or visit: www.sar.org.
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