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NASA’s 50th Anniversary Inspires Smithsonian Traveling Art Exhibit


WASHINGTON -- A traveling art exhibition featuring 73 works by some of America’s leading artists has been organized by the Smithsonian Institution to honor NASA’s 50th birthday.

“NASA | ART 50 Years of Exploration” contains almost a half-century of artwork from such luminaries as Annie Leibovitz, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, Doug and Mike Starn, Nam June Paik and William Wegman. Drawn from the collections of NASA and the National Air and Space Museum, the exhibit includes drawings, photographs, sculpture and other media. These works, both illustrative and abstract, depict private and personal moments, triumphs and tragedies from NASA’s first five decades.

“Through the NASA Art Program, artists have been given an inside glimpse into the missions and programs which make up the space agency,” said Bert Ulrich, the program’s curator at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Through their imaginations, artists have shared an entirely new interpretation of the NASA story with the public.

“NASA | ART” will open Oct. 25 at the Art League of Bonita Springs in Bonita Springs, Fla. The exhibition will remain there until Jan. 19, 2009, then travel to 10 other museums through 2011. The show was put together by NASA and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, in cooperation with the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

The works featured in the exhibit date from the start of the NASA Art Program in 1962, when Administrator James E. Webb asked painters, musicians and conceptual artists to illustrate and interpret the space agency’s missions. A companion book to the exhibit, “NASA | ART 50 Years of Exploration,” will be published in fall 2008 by Harry N. Abrams.

The National Air and Space Museum, composed of the flagship building on the National Mall in Washington and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., is home to the world’s finest collection of artifacts of flight. The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington for more than 50 years through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history.


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