SEPTEMBER 1, 2005 –SEPTEMBER 1, 2010
The exhibit conveys the visions of the American nation as portrayed by American artists such as Alexander Calder, Cyrus Dallin, Maynard Dixon, Robert Indiana, Daniel Ridgway Knight, Francis Davis Millet, Norman Rockwell, Minerva Teichert, Andy Warhol, Benjamin West and Mahonri M. Young. These artists perpetuated a vision of America as heir to the values of Western civilization, such as democracy, classical order, and Christianity. American artists of this era appropriated European styles and Christian sensibilities to mythologize the founding events of the nation. After the Civil War, America experienced an industrial boom and became a wealthy nation. Citizens of the new country tested their identity against the countries of Europe. Self-consciousness about America’s reputation as a cultural backwater spurred attempts to prove cultural sophistication. American artists studied art in Paris and Munich, and emulated modern European styles well into the 20th century. America emerged as a new world power after World War I. Following World War II, the nation realized its identity as one of the most powerful nations on earth. Some American artists celebrated the achievements of their country, while others exercised their right of free speech to critique society. The exhibit also contains a reading room that allows museum visitors to study the themes of the exhibition and the lives and work of the featured artists.