(Top left) Incandescent Bottles, by Michael Sherrill, 1993; white stoneware, alkaline and barium glazes (Photo copyright John Bigelow Taylor. Used with Permission) The Smithsonian Associates.
(Top right) Yellow Pair, by Dante Marioni, 1993; blown glass (Photo: copyright John Bigelow Taylor. Used with Permission) The Smithsonian Associates.
From inside the walls of the White House are featured works of decorative arts and crafts, on view at the Renwick Gallery of The Smithsonian American Art Museum and online at the virtual exhibition, White House Collection of American Crafts . Both exhibits include a wide selection of objects and décor from the official home of the United States Presidents.
The exhibit, Something of Splendor: Decorative Arts from the White House is an in-depth show illustrating the history and intention of 95 selected pieces of furniture, ceramics, metals, glass and textiles. The most recently displayed artworks are from Reagan’s term in 1982 and date back to the presidency of James Monroe in 1817.One of the first observations I noted from my visit to the Renwick Gallery, was the layout of the exhibition. It gives the viewer a feel of elegance with the high ceilings, columns, marble floors, and greenery perched over the displays. Adorning many of the objects are archival photographs of the interiors to give the visitors a glimpse of life in the White House, back in the day. The majority of pieces were specifically intended for interiors such as the unfinished East Room, State Dining Room, and the Red and Blue Rooms. For each artifact in the show we learn the story of its creation and purpose, as well as the historical context.
One display is a personal keepsake, woven Coverlet (1925-27) made by First Lady, Grace Goodhue Coolidge. Grace designed this patriotic coverlet, embroidered with the national motto, Coolidge’s administration date, and the words, “E pluribus Unum” (“Liberty Bell”) for the famous rosewood Lincoln bed. This coverlet is one example of the many special mementos dedicated to the “President’s House”, the early 19th century name dubbed to the White House.
You can also check out another great source of interior artwork online at the exhibit of American Crafts from the White House Collection. The Smithsonian Associates will be conducting a lecture in accordance with this collection, more info follows:
So, don’t miss out on these great opportunities to see the White House’s interior treasures!
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~ Margaret McClung