For students across the country, American history will soon get a whole lot easier to envision. That's because the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) has launched its new "Picturing America" program, which will provide large, high-quality reproductions of 40 different works of art by American artists—including paintings, photographs, and architecture—to any school or library across the country that applies.
President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, who is a former teacher, and NEH Chairman Bruce Cole announced the campaign at the White House today. "At their best, arts and humanities express the ideals that define our nation," said President Bush. "We are defined not by bloodline, race, or creed, but by character and convictions."
The artwork selected is a cross-section of American history through art, from the Revolutionary War to contemporary American life: the 1852 State Capitol in Columbus, Ohio, designed by Thomas Cole, the 1930 Chrysler Building, designed by William Van Alen, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, designed in 1935. Along with the reproductions, the program includes teaching resources for educators hoping to incorporate the images into their lesson plans.
Cole said that the program covered a "scope unprecedented," and that it hoped to reach millions of young people and their families. "By appealing to the eyes, 'Picturing America' will make an indelible impression on our minds and hearts," he added.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and writer Tom Wolfe attended the press conference, as well as students from Robert Brent Elementary in Washington, D.C. More information about Picturing America can be found at www.picturingamerica.neh.gov.
- Krista Walton