Blue Star Museums Blog (Archive)

Postcard from Blue Star Museums Launch

Last week, we kicked off the fourth summer of Blue Star Museums with a fantastic event at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Washington, DC. We were joined by service members and their spouses and children, as well as a number of guest speakers, including NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa, Blue Star Families CEO Kathy Roth-Douquet, Commander Leslie Hull-Ryde from the Department of Defense, and Elizabeth Broun, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director at SAAM.

The event was held at the museum's historic Lincoln Gallery, which was once the site of President Lincoln's second inaugural ball (you can still see Civil War-era graffiti in certain spots along the walls). Today, the gallery holds SAAM's contemporary art collection, which guests were able to tour after speakers gave their remarks. One of the highlights of the gallery is Nam June Paik's Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, which uses a mix of television and neon to show how national and state identity have been shaped by film and TV (check out our recent NEA Arts piece on the artist here). The tour also included work by Alexander Calder, the large-scale bronze sculpture Monekana by Deborah Butterfield, and Mickalene Thomas's larger-than-life Portrait of Mnonja, filled with rhinestones, bold colors, and wild patterns. Take a look through our photos from last Tuesday, or even better, stop by the museum itself if you're in town!

Military families are front and center at the launch event for 2013 Blue Star Museums at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where they stand in front of Nam June Paik's Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii (1995). Photo by James Kegley

NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa delivers remarks at the 2013 Blue Star Museums launch. Photo by James Kegley

Commander Leslie Hull-Ryde, Department of Defense Spokeswoman, Office of the Secretary of Defense, speaks at the Blue Star Museums launch. Photo by James Kegley

A young visitor asks a docent about Deborah Butterfield's Monekana (2001). Photo by James Kegley

A military child takes a closer look at Monekana by Deborah Butterfield. Photo by James Kegley

Children get hands-on with objects from the Art Cart at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Photo by James Kegley

Visitors look on as a docent explains Portrait of Mnonja (2010)by Mickalene Thomas. Photo by James Kegley

After admiring the rhinestones used in Portrait of Mnonja by Mickalene Thomas, visitors get a feel for the medium. Photo by James Kegley

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