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Press Room


Over 500 "Treasures to Go" to 70 Museums Nationwide: Museum Visibility Campaign Accompanies Tour

Updated June 2000


Contact: Smithsonian American Art Museum's Public Affairs Office AmericanArtinfo[at]">saaminfo[at]
American Art's Web site:
Recorded information: (202) 633-8998

When the Smithsonian American Art Museum began planning for three years of renovations to start this year, it was relatively easy to figure out what to do with desks, computers, and phones. But what do you do with the greatest collection of American art in the world?

"Storing treasures that attract more than half a million visitors each year was not an option we wanted to consider," said Elizabeth Broun, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Instead, in January 2000 the museum launched the most extensive art tour ever, sharing with the American people over 500 of its finest treasures at more than 70 museums. "Treasures to Go" will feature eight thematic exhibitions of paintings and sculpture.

The goal of "Treasures to Go" is to stimulate interest in American art among new audiences as well as art lovers by touring the nation's foremost American art collection to communities across the country. These shows will make stops through 2002 from Miami to Dallas to Los Angeles. The breadth of the itineraries reflects a determination to bring the finest works of art directly to the nation.

To generate public awareness of American art and "Treasures to Go," the museum joined with the Principal Financial Group® to develop a national visibility campaign. The American Art Museum will produce national cable television specials and a syndicated program for broadcast on a network affiliate in each city visited by the tour. Public relations, advertising, and media partnerships with national publications will highlight aspects of the tour. Gift books, posters, educational materials on American art, special events and a new section on the museum's award-winning web site will generate excitement for "Treasures to Go." The museum's partnership with the Principal Financial Group supports these activities.

"The kickoff of 'Treasures to Go' in Miami was an exciting launch for this ambitious tour," commented Broun. "It's very gratifying to get such enthusiastic responses from our museum partners and from visitors looking forward to 'Treasures to Go' in their own communities."

The paintings and sculpture in "Treasures to Go" cover eight themes:

"Young America" traces the country's transformation from colonies to nationhood through great portraits by John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale and Gilbert Stuart as well as landscapes and scenes of early America.

"Lure of the West" includes portraits of Native Americans by George Catlin, western subjects by Frederic Remington and Albert Bierstadt and works from the Taos chool.

"American Impressionism" presents canvases full of light and color by Childe Hassam, James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, John Twatchman and Thomas Wilmer Dewing.

"The Gilded Age" highlights John Singer Sargent, Abbott Thayer, and others who brought a new sophistication and elegance to American art in the decades before World War I.

"Scenes of American Life" explores the 20th century, from the excitement of New York and the Roaring Twenties through the Depression and postwar period, in works by Edward Hopper, Jacob Lawrence and Paul Cadmus.

"Modernism & Abstraction" shows radical transformations of American art in the 20th century by Georgia O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Stuart Davis and Franz Kline.


"Contemporary Folk Art" showcases self-taught artists of the past 40 years such as Thornton Dial, Howard Finster, and William Hawkins—most working in obscurity until the past decade.

"Arte Latino" celebrates the vitality of Latino art traditions and innovations, from the 18th through the 20th centuries, represented by Carlos Alfonzo, Carmen Lomas Garza, Agueda Martínez, Jesús Bautista Moroles, Pepón Osorio and Patssi Valdez.


For more information about the traveling shows, including updated itineraries for each, click on "Treasures to Go" at the top of the museum's Web site at

The Principal Financial Group, a global insurance and financial services company, is the museum's partner in efforts to increase national visibility for the tour and for the museum. The Principal has provided funding for a variety of public relations initiatives and marketing services. International Management Group (IMG), a multinational marketing and management agency, is assisting in the partnership.


The Principal Financial Group began supporting the arts in the 1930s to promote cultural awareness, reach diverse audiences and foster creative thinking among employees through employee participation in the arts. In recognition of its long-standing support for the arts, the Principal is one of only 13 companies nationally to receive the Business Committee for the Arts Founder's Award, which recognizes companies that have exhibited exceptional long-term leadership, vision, and commitment to developing alliances with arts.

"We are excited by this museum's ability to tell the story of American art by taking artworks of this caliber into communities all over the country," said Mary O'Keefe, senior vice president, corporate relations, of the Principal Financial Group. "As the museum's promotional partner, we hope to bring cultural benefit to communities, our employees, and our customers throughout the country. We're proud to be a part of 'Treasures to Go.'"

The Smithsonian American Art Museum collection began with gifts of art donated to the federal government in 1829 and has evolved into the world's most important museum of American art holdings, with approximately 38,000 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings, photographs, folk-art objects, and 20th-century crafts. While its main building, the Old Patent Office, is closed for renovations estimated to take three years, the museum is continuing a full program of craft exhibitions at its Renwick Gallery, located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W., Washington, D.C.

For further information contact:


Laura Baptiste, Smithsonian American Art Museum
(202) 357-2247,

Terri Shell, Principal Financial Group, (515) 283-8858,