Art Works Blog

Did You Know: Presidents' Day Edition

Vintage Postcard Washington's Birthday, H.B. Griggs. Image courtesy of flickr user riptheskull

Did you know that the White House is considered a living museum? Roughly 50,000 objects are part of the permanent collection, which includes everything from paintings and sculpture to silverware and furnishings.

Did you know that the very first NEA grant was awarded by Vice President Hubert Humphrey? The check was made out to to the American Ballet Theatre for $100,000, and was presented on December 20, 1965.

Did you know that when he was 58, just a few years before becoming president, Dwight Eisenhower took up painting? He painted nearly 300 works. On April 18, 19, and 20, the Eisenhower National Historic Site will feature a continuous video loop showcasing some of the former president’s paintings. Eisenhower's portrait of his wife, Mamie, was on view last year as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit, Capital Portraits.

Did you know before becoming president of the United States, Ronald Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild? Unlike the American presidency, there was no term limit: Reagan served in the SAG position a total of seven times.

Did you know that Bill Clinton wasn't the only future president to showcase his musical chops on television? In 1992, then presidential candidate Clinton made waves when he played the saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show, but Richard Nixon had already beat him to the punch. In 1963, Nixon, an accomplished pianist, performed on The Jack Paar Program.

Did you know that Our American Cousin, the play Abraham Lincoln was enjoying when he was shot by John Wilkes Booth, has seen new life as an opera? The opera, which bears the same name as the original production, presents a fictionalized account of Lincoln's assassination as told from the perspective of the actors who were performing at Ford's Theatre the night of April 14, 1865. It had its world premiere on June 20, 2008, in Northampton, Massachusetts.


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