Never-before-seen collection of soldier artwork 100 years in the making
PHILADELPHIA, May 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 15,000 paintings and sketches created by over 1,300 American soldiers in the line of duty have been in curatorial storage in Washington, D.C. for decades, seldom made available for public viewing. Art of the American Soldier will bring these powerful works of art into the spotlight at the National Constitution Center from September 24, 2010 through January 10, 2011. The exhibition, featuring a never-before-seen collection, was created by the Center in partnership with the U.S. Army Center of Military History and the National Museum of the United States Army. Following its world debut at the Center, the exhibition will begin a national tour. Beginning today, tickets to the exhibition are available for purchase at 215.409.6700 or on the Center's website at www.constitutioncenter.org.
Army Art Program History
The U.S. Army's art program began during World War I, and continued through World War II, resulting in the creation of over 2,000 pieces of art. In 1945, the Army established its Historical Division, with responsibilities including the preservation of these works. The collection also includes artwork by artists who were sent to document the Vietnam War, as well as works from soldier-artists who are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. For a complete history of the Army's art program, visit www.constitutioncenter.org/ncc_press_Art_of_the_American_Soldier.aspx.
Despite its impressive collection, the Army is the only United States armed service without a national museum. The Army Historical Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Army, is currently spearheading a campaign to create the National Museum of the United States Army.
"This highly important collection, never before on public exhibit, portrays the spirit of America's sons and daughters who have answered the call to defend our Nation," said Colonel (ret) Robert J. Dalessandro, Assistant Chief of Military History, Center of Military History.
"The National Constitution Center is proud to make this remarkable collection available to the public for the first time. Though this visual record is familiar to few, it is no less powerful in its ability to convey and evoke the human experience of military conflict," said National Constitution Center President and CEO David Eisner. "These first-hand expressions of the realities of war uniquely and vividly trace the lives of the brave men and women who have answered the Constitution's call to 'provide for the common defense."
Covering over 6,000 square feet and featuring more than 250 works of art in a variety of mediums, the exhibition celebrates the creative spirit of the American soldier and unveils unforgettable images that offer intimate, first-hand insight into the soldier experience. The artwork, spanning from World War I to the present, is organized into five sections – Introduction, A Soldier's Life, A Soldier's Duty, A Soldier's Sacrifice, and The American Soldier – and captures the everyday lives of American soldiers, from deployment and camp life to the battlefield, telling their stories in a way no newsreel or photograph ever could.
In 1919, World War I soldier-artist J. Andre Smith said, "When a war poses for its picture, it leaves to the artist the selection of the attitude in which the artist may desire to draw it. And this attitude is the artist's point of view circumscribed by the boundaries of his ability and the nature of the work for which his training and practice have fitted him."
In conjunction with the exhibition, the National Constitution Center will also launch a special online gallery where veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces can submit artwork that reflects their time of service. The site will launch in July at www.constitutioncenter.org, and selected works from the online gallery will be displayed inside the Art of the American Soldier exhibition.
In addition to connecting with the soldier experience through compelling works of art, visitors will have the opportunity to hear oral histories of our nation's service men and women during a special iPod audio tour. The Art of the American Soldier iPod tour has been generously underwritten by Team Clean, Inc.
Admission to Art of the American Soldier is $17.50 for adults; $15.50 for seniors ages 65 and up, youth ages 13-18, and students with ID; $13.50 for military families with ID; and $10.50 for children ages 4-12. Admission for veterans is FREE with regular museum admission. Admission for active military personnel, career military retirees, and children ages 3 and under is FREE. Group rates are also available. Admission to the Center's main exhibition, The Story of We the People, including the award-winning theater production "Freedom Rising," is included. iPod audio tours cost an additional $5. For ticket information, call 215.409.6700 or visit www.constitutioncenter.org.
To further augment the exhibition, the Center's public programming staff in the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach is developing a variety of programs and activities for students, teachers, and families, including exhibition guides, gallery talks, interactive workshops, and online lesson plans.
The Center will also feature a special theatrical experience inside the Art of the American Soldier exhibition. Through Their Eyes, a moving and thought provoking theater piece, will tell the stories of soldier artists on the front line. Visitors can witness Through Their Eyes twice an hour every Wednesday through Saturday between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., and between 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Sundays.
In keeping with the Center's mission to foster discussion and citizen engagement, evening programs about current and historical topics related to the exhibition are also planned.
Exhibition Partners & Sponsors
The National Constitution Center has partnered with the USO of Pennsylvania & Southern New Jersey and the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, which runs www.visitphilly.com, for additional support of the exhibition.
The Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company and The Coca-Cola Company are the presenting local sponsors for the Art of the American Soldier exhibition at the National Constitution Center. The Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company is the 4th largest Coca-Cola Bottler in the U.S., employing over 1200 people. It is one of the largest beverage distribution facilities in the U.S. and is a leader in manufacturing, selling, and distribution of soft drinks. Philly Coke (as most commonly referred) corporate offices are located in Northeast Philadelphia and serve a consumer base with over 6 million people across a territory that spans parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company. Along with Coca-Cola, recognized as the world's most valuable brand, the Company markets four of the world's top five soft drink brands, including Diet Coke, Fanta, and Sprite, and a wide range of other beverages, including diet and light soft drinks, waters, juices and juice drinks, teas, coffees, energy and sports drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the Company's beverages at a rate exceeding 1.6 billion servings each day. For more information about The Coca-Cola Company, please visit our website at www.thecoca-colacompany.com.
CBS 3 and The CW Philly are the official media partners of Art of the American Soldier. CBS 3 (KYW-TV) and The CW Philly 57 (WPSG-TV) are part of CBS Television Stations, a division of CBS Corporation.
About the U.S. Army Center of Military History
The U.S. Army Center of Military History is responsible for the appropriate use of history throughout the United States Army. Traditionally, this mission has meant recording the official history of the Army in both peace and war, while advising the Army Staff on historical matters. The Center spearheads the Army's historical efforts providing historical support to the Army, contributing essential background information for decision making, staff actions, command information programs, and public statements by Army officials. Over the decades it also has progressively expanded its role in the vital areas of military history education, the management of the Army's museum system. The Center's work with Army schools ensures that the study of history is a significant part of the training of officers and noncommissioned officers. It also supports the use of history to foster unit pride and give today's soldiers an understanding of the Army's past. The Center thus provides to all levels of the Army, as well as other services, government agencies, and the public, with a growing awareness of history that goes well beyond publications. For additional information, visit the Center of Military History website at www.history.army.mil.
About the National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center, located at 525 Arch St. on Philadelphia's Independence Mall, is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the ideas and values it represents. The Center serves as a museum, an education center, and a forum for debate on constitutional issues. The museum dramatically tells the story of the Constitution from Revolutionary times to the present through more than 100 interactive, multimedia exhibits, film, photographs, text, sculpture and artifacts, and features a powerful, award-winning theatrical performance, "Freedom Rising." The Center also houses the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach, which serves as the hub for national constitutional education. Also, as a nonpartisan forum for constitutional discourse, the Center presents – without endorsement – programs that contain diverse viewpoints on a broad range of issues. For more information, call 215.409.6700 or visit www.constitutioncenter.org.
SOURCE National Constitution Center