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Press Room


Smithsonian American Art Museum Expands National Audience with "Treasures to Go" Tour

Media only: Laura Baptiste (202) 275-1595

The Smithsonian American Art Museum announced today (Aug. 26) that record numbers of Americans attended the exhibitions that formed "Treasures to Go," the most extensive tour ever organized by an art museum. This tour shared the nation's foremost collection of American art with communities across the United States. More than 500 paintings and sculptures, in eight exhibitions, crisscrossed the country, making 72 stops at museums nationwide. Between January 2000 and May 2003, more than 1.7 million people in 30 states visited these exhibitions.

The eight exhibitions comprising the "Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum" tour were "Young America," "Lure of the West," "American Impressionism," "The Gilded Age," "Scenes of American Life," "Modernism & Abstraction," "Contemporary Folk Art" and "Arte Latino."

"When our museum began an extensive renovation in Washington, D.C., we knew we had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share our greatest treasures that illuminate the American experience," said Elizabeth Broun, the museum's Margaret and Terry Stent Director. "The positive response to these exhibitions across the country was overwhelming, and many museums reported record-breaking crowds."

To generate public awareness of "Treasures to Go," the museum joined with the Principal Financial Group® to develop a national visibility campaign. The museum produced a 30-minute television program that was broadcast in cities visited by the tour. In addition, advertorials appeared in several leading publications. Souvenir books, posters, educational materials on American art and a new section on the museum's award-winning Web site helped generate excitement for the tour. The museum's partnership with the Principal Financial Group supported these activities.

"The Principal was thrilled to assist in bringing some of America's finest treasures to the general public—an audience that typically may not have the opportunity to see such work," said J. Barry Griswell, president and CEO of the Principal Financial Group. "Supporting the arts and giving back to communities is rooted deep in our corporate culture, so we are delighted that so many Americans have had the opportunity to experience these precious works of art."

The Principal Financial Group, a leading global provider of a wide range of financial products and services, began supporting the arts in the 1930s to promote cultural awareness, reach diverse audiences and foster creativity among employees. The Principal owns a collection of 760 artworks from the 20th century which are displayed throughout the corporate campus in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information about the Principal Financial Group, contact Terri Shell, media relations consultant at (515) 283-8858, or visit their Web site at

The museum has a long tradition of touring exhibitions nationally. This outreach effort continues with a new series, "Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum," five exhibitions touring the nation through 2005, supported in part by the Smithsonian Special Exhibitions Fund. More information and full itineraries for each exhibition can be found on the museum's Web site at

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 American art holdings with approximately 40,000 artworks in all media spanning more than three centuries.

While the renovation of the museum's historic building continues, American Art offers a full program of exhibitions at its Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W.). For information about Renwick Gallery activities, call (202) 357-2700 or visit