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Zea mays subsp. mays x Z. mays subsp. mexicana (Schrad.) Iltis

NMNH - Botany Dept.
"Listening to the Prairie" traveling panel exhibit

Peterson, Paul M. and Barbara Stauffer

Drawing was made for traveling exhibit prepared by NMNH Public Programs, Office of Exhibits opening at NMNH on November 18, 2000 and traveling as part of the American Library Association tour in May of 2001.

Zea mays (Poaceae). Collection: John Donnell Smith, U.S.A., Garrett County, MD; inflorescence spike and corn kernal. Illustration of spikelets was from herbarium specimen and illustration of kernal was sketched from living plants on site at Beltsville Agricultural Center. - Sep 22 2000.

Zea mays subsp. mays x Z. mays subsp. mexicana (Schrad.) Iltis

NMNH - Botany Dept.
"Listening to the Prairie" traveling panel exhibit

Peterson, Paul M. and Barbara Stauffer

Drawing image was embossed on acrylic panel for travleing exhibit prepared by NMNH Public Programs, Office of Exhibits, opening at NMNH on November 18, 2000 and traveling as part of the American Library Association tour in May of 2001.

Zea mays (Poaceae). Collection: Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, U.S.A., Beltsville, MD; habit. Illustration was sketched from living plants on site at Beltsville Agricultural Center and plant was collected with help from Mark Davis, USDA researcher. - Sep 6 2000.

Zea mays L.

NMNH - Botany Dept.
"Listening to the Prairie" traveling panel exhibit

Peterson, Paul M. and Barbara Stauffer

Drawing was made for traveling exhibit prepared by NMNH Public Programs, Office of Exhibits opening at NMNH on November 18, 2000 and traveling as part of the American Library Association tour in May of 2001.

Zea mays (Poaceae). Collection: Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, U.S.A., Beltsville, MD; Corn kernal. Illustration was sketched from living plants on site at Beltsville Agricultural Center and plant was collected with help from Mark Davis, USDA researcher. - Sep 27 2000.

Zapata

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Zanthoxylum rhoifolium Lam.

NMNH - Botany Dept.

Yuri Gagarin

National Air and Space Museum
Yuri Gagarin. Page from a spiral-bound sketchbook. A sketch of a statue of Yuri Gagarin from the perspective of looking slightly up. The artist's eye level is about at the ankles. The figure looks tall and distinguished and his left arm is bent behind his back. The dark trees in the background reach up to the statue's knees and the entire piece is shaded with even, scratchy lines.

In March 1962, James Webb, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, suggested that artists be enlisted to document the historic effort to send the first human beings to the moon. John Walker, director of the National Gallery of Art, was among those who applauded the idea, urging that artists be encouraged "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race."

Working together, James Dean, a young artist employed by the NASA Public Affairs office, and Dr. H. Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art, created a program that dispatched artists to NASA facilities with an invitation to paint whatever interested them. The result was an extraordinary collection of works of art proving, as one observer noted, "that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company." Transferred to the National Air and Space Museum in 1975, the NASA art collection remains one of the most important elements of what has become perhaps the world's finest collection of aerospace themed art.

The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission -- to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.

In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize "…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation." More important, the episode convinced the administrator that "…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events" of the American space program.(2)

In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined "a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching," as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. "The important thing," he concluded, "is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy…." The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation's capital.

Webb's memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency's Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how "…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program."(3)

David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.

While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that "the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind," Walker believed that "every possible method of documentation …be used." Artists should be expected "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race." He urged quick action so that "the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost," and hoped that "the past held captive" in any paintings resulting from the effort "will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company."(4)

Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as "the top artist in the U.S. today," headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.

The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as "the best of his pupils"; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as "America's top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.

The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.

The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency's step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.

"Since we …began," Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive "press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports." The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. "The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs." While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that "our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too."(5)

For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to "defend" the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: "Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program."(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, "where it can be properly cared for."(7)

In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.

The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world's great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum's first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.

(1) Stevenson's portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)

(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb's preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).

(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.

(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

July 26, 2007

You’ll Never Guess What State Has 2018's Top Wine Destination

Smithsonian Magazine

Napa, Sonoma, and New York's Finger Lakes get a lot of attention when it comes to wine, but they aren't the only places in the U.S. to get an amazing vintage.

A study released Tuesday by RewardExpert analyzed millions of ratings on CellarTracker to identify where the best-reviewed bottles of wine originated. According to the study, the top destination for wine this year is in the great state of Ohio. Coshocton, Ohio, to be exact.

About two hours south of Cleveland and a bit more than an hour east of Columbus, Coshocton has nine wineries and vineyards that boast an average wine rating of 98 out of 100. They're basically wine gifted. According to RewardExpert, this lesser known wine haven has the most highly rated winery in the country: Heritage Vineyards.

Second place went to Easton, Maryland, which has 23 wineries and vineyards. RewardExpert found that the wines out of Easton had an average score of 94 out of 100, and the top-rated winery was Little Ashby Vineyards.

Here are the top 10 destinations for wine, along with the top rated winery in the region (though we'd bet that they're all great destinations for a vineyard tour).

1. Coshocton, Ohio - Heritage Vineyards

2. Easton, Maryland - Little Ashby Vineyards

3. Kingston-Hudson Valley, New York - Cereghinosmith

4. Riverhead-Suffolk County, New York - Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard

5. Sacramento, California - Madrona Vineyards

6. Hermiston-Columbia Valley, Oregon - Cougar Crest Estate Winery

7. Middle Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico - Corrales Winery

8. Spokane Valley, Washington - Trezzi Farm Food and Wine

9. Anchorage, Alaska - Bear Creek Winery

10. Greater El Paso, Texas - Zin Valle Vineyards

Other articles from Travel + Leisure:

Youth

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Your Summer Vacation Is a Carbon Emissions Nightmare

Smithsonian Magazine

When it comes to raising awareness of global issues, tourism is great for the environment. Travelers who encounter new ecosystems and animals and engage with indigenous cultures might be more willing to protect and advocate for them. But as a practical matter, travel is terrible for the environment, and a new study quantifies just how bad all those plane rides, hotel stays and bus tours can be, reports Matt McGrath at the BBC. According to the new research, the carbon footprint of tourism is three to four times higher than previous estimates, accounting for about 8 percent of global carbon emissions.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, was led by the University of Sydney's Integrated Sustainability Analysis supply-chain research group. The team quantified every tourism-generated carbon emission they could find in 160 nations between 2009 and 2013, from the footprint of flights to the carbon produced from the manufacture and sale of Eiffel Tower tchotchkes. The analysis took over a year, according to a press release, and combined data from 1 billion supply chains involved in tourism. “Our analysis is a world-first look at the true cost of tourism—including consumables such as food from eating out and souvenirs—it’s a complete life-cycle assessment of global tourism, ensuring we don’t miss any impacts," co-author Arunima Malik from the University of Sydney says.

The study found that the tourism industry emits 4.5 gigatonnes of equivalent carbon dioxide​ each year, and that number is growing. In 2009, the team estimates tourism emissions were 3.9 gigatons. By 2025, if things continue at pace, the industry will produce 6.5 gigtons.

Researchers write in the study that the growth in global tourism emissions is greater than that from global manufacturing, construction or service provision.

The upward tick, McGrath reports, came from people from affluent countries traveling to other affluent countries. That’s because someone traveling from New York to Paris for a holiday is more likely to opt for a spa day and a 10 course meal than someone visiting a rural area. “If you have visitors from high income countries then they typically spend heavily on air travel, on shopping and hospitality where they go to,” Malik tells McGrath. “But if the travellers are from low income countries then they spend more on public transport and unprocessed food, the spending patterns are different for the different economies they come from.”

Increasing global tourism by people from China—the world’s top tourism spender—is also spurring tourism emissions, though the biggest source of emissions comes from people visiting the United States and U.S. citizens jetting off to other parts of the world. Domestic travel in the U.S., Germany and India are all top carbon emitters as well.

Small island nations and destinations also have a disproportionate footprint because of the extra distances needed to get there and their reliance on tourism. Tourism in the Maldives, Cypress and the Seychelles accounts for between 30 and 80 percent of those island’s total emissions.

So what’s the solution? Rochelle Turner of the World Travel and Tourism Council says just knowing the impact of travel can help people make lower-impact decisions. “There is a real need for people to recognize what their impact is in a destination,” she says, “and how much water, waste and energy you should be using compared to the local population. All of this will empower tourists to make better decisions and only through those better decisions that we'll be able to tackle the issue of climate change.”

The authors suggest flying less to reduce the greatest source of emissions. And if that’s not possible, lead author Manfred Lenzen of the University of Sydney suggests buying carbon abatement credits to offset the emissions. The credits fund things like reforestation efforts, wind farms and infrastructure upgrades. Many airlines now offer passengers the ability to buy carbon offsets when booking a flight, though the authors suggest that in the future it may be necessary to mandate such offsets since most passengers are not currently paying for them voluntarily.

Your Next Favorite European Wine Region Isn’t in France, Italy or Spain

Smithsonian Magazine

The Beau-Rivage Palace hotel in Lausanne, on the shores of Lake Geneva, maintains one of Europe’s great wine cellars. Earlier in the day I’d made my way through it, a maze of 80,000 bottles extending all the way under the tennis courts, with sommelier Thibaut Panas. The cool underground rooms held the usual suspects—grand cru Burgundies, first-growth Bordeaux, Barolos—as well as plenty of fine Swiss wines. It was one of the latter that I was drinking now, as I sat on the terrace at Anne-Sophie Pic, the acclaimed French chef’s namesake restaurant at the hotel: a glass of 2007 Les Frères Dubois Dézaley-Marsens Grand Cru de la Tour Vase no. 4. A Chasselas from the terraced vineyards of the Lavaux wine region, just outside the city, the white wine was rich, complex, and subtly spicy all at once. And it was exactly why I’d come to Switzerland, since there was little chance I would ever find it back home in the U.S.

The Beau-Rivage was built on the Swiss side of the lake in 1861, and it’s what a grand old European hotel should be, which is to say it keeps the feeling that you might at any moment drift into a black-and-white movie set between the wars. Its Belle Époque salons, ballrooms, and suites have played host to the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel, and countless others accustomed to grandeur and privilege. Case in point: the woman in red leather pants at the table next to mine, who was surreptitiously feeding morsels to her miniature dachshund. The dog would poke its snout out of her red leather handbag to receive bites of $85 duck, then disappear. It had manners. I drank my good Swiss wine, pondering the quirkiness of rich Europeans.

From left: The barrel room at Domaine Jean-René Germanier, in the heart of the Valais, where visitors can taste Swiss varietal wines like Humagne Rouge and Chasselas; langoustines and beets at Anne-Sophie Pic, the restaurant at the Beau-Rivage Palace hotel, in Lausanne. (Simon Bajada)

The reason you won’t find much Swiss wine in the U.S. is simply this: 98 percent of it stays in Switzerland, where it’s drunk quite contentedly by the Swiss, who are well aware that their wines are extremely good, even if the rest of the world is not. This situation isn’t entirely intentional. The wines are dauntingly expensive outside Swiss borders, and the fact that they’re made from unfamiliar native varieties doesn’t help, either. A $50 bottle of Swiss Chasselas would be a tough sell in your local American wine store.

That said, once you arrive within their borders, the Swiss are more than happy to share. Visiting wineries in Switzerland is actually easier than in many other European wine regions. Most have shops that double as tasting rooms and keep regular hours. Plus, Switzerland’s wine country, which includes the popular cantons of Vaud and Valais, is stare-around-you-in-awe beautiful.

All that is to say why, the day after my epic dinner, I was standing with Louis-Philippe Bovard on the Chemin des Grands Crus, a narrow road that winds among the ancient Lavaux vineyard terraces east of Lausanne, in the Vaud. Bovard is the 10th generation of his family to make wine here. “I have just a small piece of vineyard, which my father gave me, which the first Louis bought in 1684,” he said with the kind of casual modesty available to you when your family has been farming the same piece of land for almost 350 years. To our left, the green vines climbed in dramatic steps—some of the stone walls are 20 feet high—up to bare rock and, eventually, the Savoy Alps. Below us they dropped equally precipitously down to the ultramarine waters of Lake Geneva.

From left: The waterfront walking path in Lausanne offers ample opportunities for people-watching. The city is the capital of the Vaud canton and close to the Lavaux vineyards, a unesco World Heritage site; a view of Lake Geneva over the rooftops of Rivaz, as seen from the vineyards of Domaine Louis Bovard. (Simon Bajada)

The Chemin des Grands Crus sees a lot of foot traffic these days, a consequence of the region’s having been named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. Bovard tolerates this with equanimity. “In September there will be a thousand people on the route,” he said. “They get very annoyed when they have to move aside for my car! But harvest is harvest. The work has to be done. And the winemakers are the ones who built the road, after all.” To give perspective, Bovard’s winery is located in the nearby town of Cully, whose population tops out at 1,800 or so. “And the other villages around here aren’t even this big, maybe three hundred inhabitants,” he added. “But of those, ten to twenty will be winegrowers.” The Dézaley Grand Cru area, which we were standing in the midst of and from which Bovard makes one of his best wines, is a tiny 135 acres, but more than 60 different families farm it.

The principal grape of Lavaux and of the Vaud as a whole is Chasselas. At one extreme it makes light, delicate, floral whites; at the other, rich, supple, full-bodied ones. “In its variety of expression, it’s like Burgundy,” Bovard told me later as we sampled wines in his tiny tasting room. “Chasselas from one cru to the next can be as different as Chablis is from Montrachet.” All of Bovard’s wines are impressive, but the standout was a 2007 Domaine Louis Bovard Médinette Dézaley Grand Cru, his top wine, its youthful fruit notes now shifting toward a layered toastiness. “As the wine ages you have less white flowers, more dried apricots, honey—much like a white Hermitage but just a bit lighter.”

I was exposed to Chasselas’s chameleonic range of styles again during lunch at Auberge de l’Onde, in the tiny town of St.-Saphorin on the old road from Geneva to the Valais. The green-shuttered, 17th-century building has been an inn for most of its existence, but these days it is known mostly for its restaurant. The feel in the downstairs brasserie is homey: wooden chairs, white-painted ceiling beams, white flowers in the window boxes. (The upstairs rotisserie is more formal, and open only for dinner.) As maître d’ and sommelier Jérôme Aké Béda seated us, a young guy carrying a motorcycle helmet poked his head through a window, and he and Aké chatted in French. “He’s a winemaker, a local guy,” Aké explained. “He makes a special cuvée for me, about three hundred bottles.”

Aké’s magnetic personality and extraordinary wine knowledge are this restaurant’s secret weapons. He’s also quick to note his unlikely path in life: “I’m from the Ivory Coast. I was raised on pineapple juice, not wine! But now I’m in wine because I love it. I swim in wine.”

If not for a chance meeting, Aké might still be living in Abidjan, the largest city in the Ivory Coast. In 1988, when he was the maître d’ at Wafou, one of the city’s top restaurants, he went to France on vacation and ran into one of his former professors from hospitality school. They chatted for a while, and eventually the man asked if Aké might like to be on the team for a project of his—in Switzerland. By 1989, Aké had a new life in a very different country. But it wasn’t until the mid 90s, working at acclaimed chef Denis Martin’s restaurant in Vevey, on Lake Geneva, that he fell in love with wine. He began training as a sommelier and, in a remarkable ascent, by 2003 had been named the best sommelier in French-speaking Switzerland by the Swiss Association of Professional Sommeliers.

Now he’s found his home at Auberge de l’Onde. “Chaplin, Stravinsky, Edith Piaf, Audrey Hepburn, they all came here,” he told me. But it was when he started to talk about Chasselas, not famous people, that he became truly passionate: “I have wines from everywhere in my cellar, but I’m going to talk to you about Swiss wine. And Chasselas—it’s one of the great grapes of the world. When you drink it, you feel refreshed. And it’s so subtle, so sensitive, you must read between its lines.”

Right as I was beginning to wonder if I’d wandered into a novel about the Chasselas whisperer, Aké set down plates of perch from the lake and expertly spit-roasted chicken in tarragon sauce. To go with them he poured us tastes from seven different bottles, all Chasselas. Some were bright, citrusy, and crisp; some were creamy, with flavors more reminiscent of pears. Of the two older vintages we tried, one had honeyed notes, the other a nutty flavor suggesting mushrooms and brown butter. “Chasselas...it’s also very earthy,” Aké went on. “It needs salt and pepper to bring out its amplitude.”

The following day I headed west in the direction of Geneva to La Côte, another of the Vaud’s six wine regions, to meet Raymond Paccot of Paccot-Domaine La Colombe. Here the land was less abrupt, the vineyards flowing down toward the lake in gentle slopes. Paccot’s winery was in Féchy, a rural village. Above it, higher on the hillside, was Féchy’s aptly nicknamed sister town, Super-Féchy, “where Phil Collins lives,” Paccot explained. “The rich people.” Even in less celebrity-filled Féchy, the local castle was currently for sale for $36.8 million, Paccot told me. “With a very nice view of the lake, if you’re interested.”

Rather than buy the castle, I ended up at La Colombe’s little shop and tasting room. Paccot, one of the first vintners in Switzerland to farm biodynamically, makes a broad range of wines, both red and white—Chasselas is not the only grape grown here. He set out an abundance of charcuterie and cheeses, and surrounded by bottles, we chatted about the history of the region.

As with essentially every European appellation, it was the Romans who cultivated vines here first. Later, in the 10th or 11th century, Cistercian monks established their own vineyards. Lavaux’s spectacular terrace walls were erected in the 1400s by northern Italian masons. By then the Vaud was part of the French-speaking Duchy of Savoy; that was also, Paccot told me, around the time when his family received its coat of arms, which features a dove (la colombe), a symbol of peace, and of course the winery. “It was given to us by Amédée, one of the Savoy counts, because in 1355, my ancestor helped secure peace. Plus, it was easier to give him a coat of arms than to pay him.” Through Europe’s many wars, vignerons grew grapes and made wine here. In French-speaking Switzerland you find local whites like Chasselas, Petite Arvine, Amigne, and Humagne, together with French transplants such as Marsanne (here known as Ermitage) and Pinot Gris (here known as Malvoisie). In the eastern, German-speaking regions, reds are more popular, particularly Pinot Noir (often referred to as Blauburgunder); in Italian-speaking Ticino, Merlot dominates.

Paccot’s 2014 Amédée, primarily made from the Savagnin grape, was a standout among the wines we tasted—melony and earthy, full-bodied but brightened by fresh acidity. “With Chasselas, it’s the delicacy, the lift, the fruit,” he said after taking a sip. “But with Savagnin it’s more like a mushroom. It smells the way it does when you’re walking in the forest.”

That comment came back to me the next day when I was, in fact, walking in a forest. But I was in the Valais, a very different place. If the Vaud is defined by the openness of Lake Geneva, Valais is defined by mountains. It’s essentially a vast gorge carved by the Rhône glacier, which before it began its retreat some 10,000 years ago stretched for nearly 185 miles and was, according to Gilles Besse, the winemaker I was walking with, “more than a mile deep. But what it left behind was this extraordinary mosaic of rocks. The soil in the Valais changes every fifteen yards—it’s not like Bordeaux.”

A vineyard in the village of Le Perrey, in the Valais, where the winemakers at Domaine Gérald Besse source their grapes. (Simon Bajada)

Nor, except for that mosaic-like soil structure, is it much like the Vaud. Here, the Alps towered up on either side of me, jagged and stunning. The previous day I’d had a conversation with Louis-Philippe Bovard and a Swiss wine-collector acquaintance of mine, Toby Barbey, about the difference between the Vaud and the Valais. Bovard had said, “The Valais, well, the soils are very different, the climate is very different, it’s very dry.” At this point Barbey interjected, “And the people are very different! They’re lunatics over there.”

I told Besse this and he laughed. He is trim, in his forties, with the requisite interesting eyewear and expensive watch that all Swiss men are apparently issued at birth. An accomplished skier, he’d recently completed the Patrouille des Glaciers, a frigid, all-night, cross-country-ski race covering some 70 miles from Zermatt to Verbier. Proof enough of a lunatic streak for me.

His family’s winery, Domaine Jean-René Germanier, opened for business in Vetroz in 1886. But at the moment we were deep in the precipitous Val d’Hérens. The forest we’d walked through gave way to one of his prized vineyards, Clos de la Couta. It is absurdly steep—your average mountain goat would be daunted. But somehow Besse harvests grapes from it, and very good ones at that. His peppery, nectarine-scented 2015 Clos de la Couta Heida (the local name for Savagnin), which we tried later on, was sublime. He also informed me that Val d’Hérens’s true fame comes less from its grapes than its fighting cows.

“Fighting cows?”

“Of course! Really angry animals. A top cow might sell for eighty-five thousand dollars, you know.”

“Not like a bullfight, right?”

“No, the cows fight each other. It’s to determine the queen—which lady rules the herd. There are many fights, but the finale is in Aproz in June. It’s a very big event. People come from all over Switzerland.”

Visual confirmation would have helped me wrap my brain around the concept. But for dinner we did indulge in an equally Valaisian tradition, raclette, at the ultimate destination for it, the Château de Villa, in Sierre.

It’s easy to look at raclette and think, “Well, that’s melted cheese on a plate.” And yes, raclette is basically melted cheese on a plate. But sit outside at Château de Villa on a spring night, looking at the turreted tower and white walls of this 16th-century building, and order the dinner tasting of five different cheeses from five different alpages (high mountain pastures) throughout the Valais. You will realize it’s much more than that.

At Château de Villa, the raclette master slices great wheels of Raclette de Valais AOC cheese in half, mounts them on metal racks, and positions them just close enough to a fire that the edge of the cheese crisps and the center melts without burning. He then scrapes the molten cheese onto a plate with a single stroke. Some cheeses are more earthy, some more oily, some more floral. All are distinct. After you try all five, you can have more of whichever you prefer, along with “light” accompaniments: boiled potatoes, bread, and pickles. And ask for the pepper mill. The correct amount of pepper? That, Besse told me, is a matter of debate.

The next day I took the train to Zurich, because of a new rule I’ve decided to apply to my life: if someone offers to show you vineyards from a speedboat, always say yes.

The someone in this case was Hermann Schwarzenbach, the debonair owner of Schwarzenbach Weinbau, a few miles south of the official city limits in the town of Meilen. Zurich’s not really known as a wine region—the city itself is too dominant, with its focus on international business and the arts—and as the villages on the northern shore of Lake Zurich have been absorbed into its sprawl, the historic line between what’s urban and rural has blurred. But the vineyards are still there, semi-hidden. Schwarzenbach pointed them out from the water—dozens of one-acre parcels up and down the lake, tucked in between stands of old plane trees, riverside parks, and the gabled summer homes of rich Zurichers. “Most of them are on land that’s protected against development,” he noted. “Otherwise they wouldn’t be there anymore.”

After zooming up and down the lake several times, we parked the boat in Schwarzenbach’s boathouse and repaired to lunch in the garden at a local restaurant, Wirtschaft zur Burg, to taste his wines. Though the building dates back to the mid 1600s, chef Turi Thoma is known for his lightly modernized takes on traditional Swiss dishes—pike from the lake simply roasted but served with a poppy, lime, and chile butter, for instance. Thoma, a compact, bald fellow with an impish smile, also buys all the wine for the restaurant. He joined us to taste Schwarzenbach’s 2008 Meilener Pinot Noir Selection. Pinot Noir is a more significant and increasingly popular red grape in German-speaking Switzerland than in the French areas, and the wine was a revelation—full of black tea and spice, intense dried-cherry fruit, juicy acidity. “You can really see the similarities to a great Côte de Nuits,” Thoma said. “You like the food?”

“Great!” I said. “Brilliant.” He was giving me that intent look that chefs give you when they feel like you might be politely hiding your actual opinion, so I ate another bite of the venison course we were on for emphasis. “And fantastic with the wine, too.”

“Great!” I said. “Brilliant.” He was giving me that intent look that chefs give you when they feel like you might be politely hiding your actual opinion, so I ate another bite of the venison course we were on for emphasis. “And fantastic with the wine, too.”

“Good,” he said, leaning back.

I said I was surprised to find Pinot Noir—and very good Pinot Noir at that—by the shores of Lake Zurich. “Yes,” Schwarzenbach said thoughtfully. “But think about it. The tradition of Pinot Noir here is over four hundred years old. Perhaps even longer. It was always our main variety of red wine. Classic cool-climate reds, that’s what we do. Yes, it was brought here by the...oh, the duke of whatever. But it’s our variety. Right?”

Exploring Swiss Wine Country

The cantons of Vaud, Valais, and Zurich offer all the pleasures of the world’s best-known wine destinations without the crowds. Give yourself a week to experience all three, along with the urban pleasures of Geneva.

Getting There and Around

Swiss International Air Lines offers 73 flights per week from Canada and the U.S. to Geneva and Zurich. To get between cities by train, invest in a Swiss Travel Pass. Though you can visit most wineries and tasting rooms unannounced, a good option is to work with a tour company like CountryBred, which plans dinners with winemakers, luxury transportation, tastings, and more.

The Vaud

To explore the wine regions of the Vaud, stay in the city of Lausanne. The recently renovated Beau-Rivage Palace (doubles from $565), originally built in 1861, has spectacular views over Lake Geneva, both from its exquisitely appointed rooms and from chef Anne-Sophie Pic’s namesake Michelin two-starred restaurant. A walk along the Lavaux terraces’ Chemin des Grands Crus, just 15 minutes from Lausanne, is not to be missed. Then visit Domaine Bovard, in Cully, one of the region’s benchmark Chasselas producers. Domaine du Daley, founded in 1392, is in Lutry. Its terrace has the best view of all the Lavaux wineries. Closer to Geneva in La Côte, Raymond Paccot’s Paccot-Domaine La Colombe is another highlight. Make sure to try the three Chasselas bottlings — Bayel, Brez, and Petit Clos — all from different terroirs. I loved dining at Auberge de l’Onde (entrées $13–$41), in St.-Saphorin, where sommelier Jérôme Aké Béda preaches the gospel of Swiss wine and the rotisserie-grilled meats are incomparable.

The Valais

Hotel-Restaurant Didier de Courten (doubles from $240), in Sierre, is a pleasant, relaxed base for your excursions. Thirty minutes away in Ardon, Domaine Jean-René Germanier is known as one of the Valais’s best producers, both of whites such as Fendant (as Chasselas is known in the region) and reds such as Syrah. Twenty minutes southwest brings you to Gérald Besse’s brand-new winery outside Martigny. Taste his impressive wines, such as the Ermitage Vielle Vigne Les Serpentines, from a vineyard planted on a dramatic 55-degree slope. Cheese-and-wine fanatics should try Château de Villa (entrées $11–$55), in Sierre, not only for the raclette tasting but also for the attached shop, which stocks some 650 different wines.

Zurich and Its Environs

Staying in Zurich gives you access to all the attractions of the big city, but just outside lie wineries that produce lovely whites and surprisingly good Pinot Noirs. In Zurich, the Baur au Lac (doubles from $926) is one of the great historic hotels of Europe, built in 1844 — the same year its founder, Johannes Baur, started his wine business, which the hotel still runs. At Schwarzenbach Weinbau, a wine producer 15 minutes away in the town of Meilen, you can sip subtle Pinot Noirs and citrus-apricoty white Rauschlings, available nowhere else on earth. Dinner at Wirtschaft zur Burg (entrées $15–$30), also in Meilen, is excellent. Chef Turi Thoma relies on ingredients such as pike and hare for his brilliantly executed spins on traditional recipes.

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National Museum of American History

Youngblood and Son-Movers

National Air and Space Museum
Watercolor painting on paper. Youngblood and Son - Movers, Sept 64. A farmhouse is being moved during construction of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Several loosely defined figures are standing near the house wearing yellow hard hats. A truck with a yellow cab is to the left of the house and a man is standing between the truck and the tractor. The road enters the scene on a diagonal coming from the lower right. The sky is a blotchy blend of blue and grey, and it appears to have vertical streaks through the watercolor.

In March 1962, James Webb, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, suggested that artists be enlisted to document the historic effort to send the first human beings to the moon. John Walker, director of the National Gallery of Art, was among those who applauded the idea, urging that artists be encouraged "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race."

Working together, James Dean, a young artist employed by the NASA Public Affairs office, and Dr. H. Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art, created a program that dispatched artists to NASA facilities with an invitation to paint whatever interested them. The result was an extraordinary collection of works of art proving, as one observer noted, "that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company." Transferred to the National Air and Space Museum in 1975, the NASA art collection remains one of the most important elements of what has become perhaps the world's finest collection of aerospace themed art.

The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission -- to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.

In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize "…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation." More important, the episode convinced the administrator that "…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events" of the American space program.(2)

In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined "a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching," as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. "The important thing," he concluded, "is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy…." The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation's capital.

Webb's memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency's Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how "…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program."(3)

David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.

While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that "the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind," Walker believed that "every possible method of documentation …be used." Artists should be expected "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race." He urged quick action so that "the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost," and hoped that "the past held captive" in any paintings resulting from the effort "will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company."(4)

Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as "the top artist in the U.S. today," headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.

The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as "the best of his pupils"; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as "America's top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.

The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.

The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency's step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.

"Since we …began," Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive "press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports." The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. "The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs." While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that "our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too."(5)

For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to "defend" the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: "Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program."(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, "where it can be properly cared for."(7)

In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.

The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world's great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum's first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.

(1) Stevenson's portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)

(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb's preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).

(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.

(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

July 26, 2007

Young Worker

National Museum of American History
Lewis Hine silver print circa 1906-1918. One in a series of photographs made for The National Child Labor Committee. A child street vendor standing outside of a coffee and tea house. The young boy is selling cigars and other goods out of a wooden box. There is snow in his hair and a vacant look on his face. The window behind him reveals much happier smiling faces within the cafe.

Note: Hine Photo Company stamp on verso (pink).

Lewis Hine was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin to a working class family. He was orphaned at the age of fifteen and forced into the workforce. While supporting himself, Hine managed to continue his education. After high school graduation he worked a few odd jobs and then in 1900 eventually enrolled at The University of Chicago. At the University Hine studied Sociology. While taking classes, Hine came to know Frank Manny a professor at the State Normal School. Manny had recently received a job offer to be the superintendent of the Ethical Culture School in New York City. Hine decided to join his new friend and in 1901 moved to New York to teach at Manny's school. Hine continued to pursue his degree in Sociology at New York University. It was during this period that Hine began to use a camera. At first, his interest in photography was simply as a means to educate students and to document school events. However, Hine was quick to take an interest in photography and ultimately this new medium would become the means through which he could express his growing social concerns, especially about child welfare.

In 1904, Hine began his first photo essay. In an attempt to counter growing anti-immigration sentiment amongst New Yorkers, and Americans in general, Hine began a project to photograph immigrant families arriving at Ellis Island. Instead of making them appear pathetic or even animalistic, as other photographers were doing, Hine photographed these people with a humanitarian eye. He depicted them as brave, dignified pioneers of a new land. Hine's camera was a 5x7-plate box-type on a tripod. Often he had to work in low light. If he was indoors, Hine usually had only one chance to photograph an image because after he used a magnesium flash powder to create artificial light the room would fill with smoke, obstructing the image.

In 1905, Hine received his degree from NYU and began considering a career in Sociological Photography. By 1908, he had left his teaching job for a full time position as an investigative photographer for The National Child Labor Committee (NCLC). His first commission from the NCLC was to photograph home workers, children and adults, in New York City tenements. Hine was horrified with what he saw, he described the conditions as "One of the most iniquitous phases of child slavery." Later that year Hine, on commission from the NCLC, left New York to photograph child laborers all over the United States. In 1909 Hine published his first photo essay on children at risk. The essay was comprised of material from the first years of his tour of the United States.

Throughout his career many more photo essays would follow, alerting the public to the plight of these American children who were obviously in such grave danger in their working environments.

Hine's work also took him to Europe in 1917. Funded by the Red Cross he photographed European refugees of World War I. In the 1920's, Hine returned to America and to Ellis Island to once again photograph newly arrived immigrants. Although Hine was a pioneer in 'Sociological Photography' and he had vastly increased public awareness about child labor, he still struggled to make a living.

In 1930, ten years before his death, Hine received the honor of photographing the construction of the Empire State Building. For a change, Hine focused on the joyful and productive side of labor instead of the dark side. Lewis Hine died in 1940. As a photographer, Hine left a resounding impact on the worlds of journalism and art, pioneering a new form of storytelling that today we call photojournalism.

Young Gander with Beautiful Foot

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Young Gander

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Young Colt

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

You've Been Slurping Ramen All Wrong

Smithsonian Magazine

The proper position to eat ramen is with your face and hands at a certain angle and proximity to the bowl—close enough, and far enough away, to transfer noodles from bowl to mouth with chopsticks, and to let the aroma-infused steam deepen the sensory connection to the dish. The ramen noodle should be eaten al dente, but this creates a timing issue. Because it’s usually served in a hot broth, the noodle is prone to going soft. The quality of the experience hangs in the balance.

Hence the body positioning. Slurping also has a role. It helps cool the liquid, and aerates it, releasing a fuller expression of flavors.

“With the hot soup, it’s go go go: They say you have eight minutes in the soup before the noodle starts to overcook,” ramen expert Brian MacDuckston tells me. “You want to get your head right in there and stir it all up, activate the gluten.”

For the serious ramen eater, it’s a private communion more than a social experience. The most sought-after spots are the bar counters, and many restaurants are little more than bar counters. One place I visit has dividers that create cubicles reminiscent of old telephone banks, where I pass my order on a printed note through an opening only wide enough to receive back the bowl, as if human engagement would dilute the whole experience. Given the kitchen noise, the place is not as quiet as a library or a confessional booth, but the spirit of it suggests something similar. The etiquette around ramen includes one particular prohibition worth noting. Chopsticks need to be set down by the bowl or across its rim, never stuck into the noodles so that they point out at an upward angle, which is the way Japanese leave food offerings at graves and would be regarded as a gesture or symbol of death.

MacDuckston, who moved to Japan a decade ago from San Francisco, blogs about ramen shops, mostly those in Tokyo, and leads tours to his favorite spots. He figures there are at least 5,000 shops in Tokyo alone, though only about 200 to 300 make what he calls “impact ramen,” a certain sublime culinary level. In 2015, one of them, a nine-seat restaurant named Tsuta, became the first to earn a Michelin star. It was a distinguished moment in the history of ramen, a traditional street food elevated to an artisanal cuisine with gastronomique aspirations.

Ramen now reaches well beyond Japan. You can find shops in places as far away, geographically and culturally, as Iceland and Mexico, with chefs putting their own spin on the dish (e.g., Raheli’s Kosher Ramen Israeli style). In the case of the celebrated ramen chef Ivan Orkin, the first American to open a shop in Tokyo, passion for ramen has spun all the way back to Japan.

If ramen could yet turn out to be a fad in the rest of the world, its importance in Japan is hard to overstate. Tens of thousands of ramen shops dot the Japanese archipelago, and it’s a culinary and cultural touchstone that goes way beyond food—into modern history, popular culture, even, apparently, romance. The Ramen Bank, a website that scores ramen shops the way Wine Spectator scores wine, also offers a “ramen marriage hunting” service, a matchmaking link for those whose shared passion could be the foundation of a committed relationship.

Chefs travel to the country’s most remote recesses to source ingredients from farms and specialized makers of soy sauce and other products. At a top slurp shop, every ingredient is handcrafted, fermented, seasoned, smoked, chipped, or shaven for its role in the dish.

Diners take a selfie at a yatai, or street stall, in the city of Fukuola on the Japanese island of Kyushu. (Hajime Kimura, The New York Times / Redux)

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Ramen soup is layered. Its base is an unseasoned stock—usually pork or chicken—and vegetables. The seasoning comes from a concentrated liquid called tare, which comes in three flavors: salt, miso, or soy. Each chef uses particular ingredients in specific proportions to make a signature tare, an often secret blend that distinguishes one shop from another. The noodles are made from wheat flour, salt, water, and baking soda, and their width or thickness should be calibrated to the consistency and flavor of the broth. A noodle has to stand up to the soup but not overwhelm it, so a thin noodle is usually for a subtle soup and a thicker one for a hearty soup. The dish is enhanced with aromatic oils and finished with toppings such as bonito or sardine flakes and garlic chips. Everything about ramen is about balance and harmony.

There are important regional differences. In Tokyo the stock is usually chicken and the amount of kansui, a baking soda compound in water that makes the ramen noodle different from, say, pasta, is comparatively high. Go west, and the Hakata style, tonkotsu, is pork-based. In the north and east, kansui is more concentrated, creating different styles of noodle.

A recent trend is yaki ramen, which is ramen without the broth. At the Raumen (Ramen) Museum in Yokohama—a modest-size mall of little ramen shops representing the various regional styles—one place features soupless ramen with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese, which to the uninformed might look like pasta and sauce. The difference is the noodle, which, because of the kansui, has a chewier texture and a distinctive smell. Japanese describe the pungent ramen odor in much the way cheese aficionados will make approving comparisons to barnyards and socks.

If the regional differences might be compared with variations of food in France or Italy, a notable difference is that Japan’s national food is not passed down by ancient tradition. For most of its history Japan’s basic grain was, of course, rice, not wheat; ramen only appeared in Japan in the 1880s, migrating from China. It was quick, cheap, and filling, and Japan began to adopt and fashion ramen as its own. But ramen really took root in Japan after World War II, and the reasons for that had less to do with culinary tastes than with political realities.

“There was an important geopolitical purpose behind the wheat that became Chuka soba [ramen noodles] and other foods, which was to stave off the rise of Communism in Japan,” writes George Solt in his engaging study, The Untold History of Ramen: How Political Crisis in Japan Spawned a Global Food Craze.

At the end of the war Japan was devastated; between bombings and drought, it was unable to feed itself. American authorities approached food policy somewhat punitively. Even though the American narrative was about magnanimity and big-heartedness, in fact the Japanese government was being charged the cost of the occupation. The Japanese were suffering, and Eisenhower wrote a memo to Truman warning that there could be violent unrest. After the communists took over China, in 1949, the Truman Administration expanded a policy that had become known as “containment.” It saw food aid as critical to rebuilding Japan and keeping the influence of the Soviets at bay. The U.S. dramatically increased the supply of wheat flour to Japan.

“The dependence on American wheat imports during the occupation set Japan on a long-term course of food importation that would set the stage for the flourishing of ramen...in later decades,” writes Solt. “The battle for Japanese hearts and minds would therefore occur in large part through food, making American wheat a highly effective public relations tool.”

Ramen comes in many varieties, depending on the ingredients and the type of noodle that is used. It should be eaten relatively quickly so the noodles don't overcook and become too soft in the bowl. (Jody Horton, Offset)

**********

Slurping and noodling my way across Japan, I eventually arrive in Fukuoka on the northern edge of Kyushu Island. Here I learn firsthand another way in which the Second World War served to bolster the production and sale of ramen.

Fukuoka has a reputation as one of the world’s least known great food cities, and it is especially proud of its tonkotsu ramen, a rich, pungent pork-based style. And among its most popular attractions are yatai, or street stalls, especially the ones set up along the Naka River. The yatai, it turns out, are relatively new: They sprang up in the postwar period, at the end of Japan’s imperial era. Former colonists returning from China, Taiwan, and Korea established them because they were a quick and inexpensive way to get into business.


Today many yatai are two-man operations: a cook and a helper, who serves as a marketer and promoter to passersby still deciding which place to sample. Stools are set up at a counter around the cook, who passes out bowls and small plates as they’re ready.

Before I head out to sample Fukuoka’s ramen, I ask my hotel’s concierge to recommend a good yatai, along with directions. He dismisses them all as “touristy.” Not helpful, but no matter. It turns out none are so touristy as to have signboards in English or even Romaji (Japanese words in Roman lettering). I pick the one that has the longest wait for a seat.

Two Japanese women visiting from Tokyo befriend me and think I ought to try some things I neglected to order myself—the stalls also serve grilled meats—and pass me their small plates to pluck from. We manage to converse with some words in English and the miracle of a translation app. Other nearby seats are taken by a fellow American, a Swede, and a Frenchman. Perhaps because the beer and shochu flow—the Japanese custom is typically not to drink alcohol with ramen—this place is more social than some other slurp shops. Our gathering even begins to feel like an impromptu meet-up.

Some people may call the shop touristy. But I think it may say something about ramen, and how customs and tradition keep changing. Anyway, the food is very tasty and the atmosphere is fun. And at least I’m not completely lost: When it comes time to slurp, I’ve had a good week of training, and the one thing I do understand is how to get in just the right position.

You'll Have to Take a Boat Ride and a Hike Through the Forest to Get to France's Newest Art Museum

Smithsonian Magazine

Prepare for an unconventional art experience at Fondation Carmignac, a gallery opening this month on the Provençal island of Porquerolles at the heart of Port-Cros National Park. Visitors must take a 15-minute ferry from the mainland, then a short walk through the forest to reach the space, situated in a converted farmhouse on land that once featured in the Jean-Luc Godard film Pierrot le Fou. Upon arrival, guests are welcomed with a ritualized drink service, then invited to walk barefoot on the sandstone floors of the contemporary-art-filled villa, an experience meant to connect you with the surroundings. Admission is limited — only 50 visitors are allowed in each half-hour — so as to ensure the museum never feels too frenetic or crowded.

Jacob HASHIMOTO, Fondation Carmignac, 2018 (© Marc Domage)

The 21,530-square-foot space is capped by a glass ceiling with a water feature flowing above, lending it an otherworldly feel. The opening exhibit, Sea of Desire, begins as guests emerge from the forest and wends throughout the property, featuring work by giants such as Lichtenstein, Warhol, and Basqiat, as well as emerging artists. The grounds are planted with mimosa and lemon trees and dotted with sculptures, and the sea is just a few steps beyond—the foundation even encourages visitors go for a pre- and post-visit swim. To get to Porquerolles, connect via train or plane to Toulon, then drive to La Tour Fondue for scheduled ferry service or Hyères port for round-the-clock water taxi service to the island.

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You helped us reach our goal to conserve and display the Ruby Slippers!

National Museum of American History

At a little past 11:15 p.m. on Sunday, October 23, 2016, you took us somewhere over the rainbow. With over 5,300 backers, our "Keep Them Ruby" Kickstarter campaign reached its goal of raising $300,000 to support the conservation and display of Dorothy's Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz. The team here at the museum is obviously thrilled with the tremendous show of support for this project, but what about museum visitors? Volunteer Larry Margasak interviewed visitors about why the nearly 80-year-old film has such staying power. 

When museum visitor Mike Peterson moved from Belvue, Kansas, to Surprise, Arizona, he took a bit of The Wizard of Oz with him. Stenciled on his kitchen wall is Dorothy Gale's famous line from the fantasy world of Oz, telling her dog Toto that she has a feeling, "we're not in Kansas anymore."

Shortly after Peterson paused at the museum's pair of Ruby Slippers, Kimberly Newkirk nostalgically gazed at the shoes in their glass display case. She felt connected to the movie's star, Judy Garland. She's from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, where Judy was born as Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922.

A girl with braids in her hair and her mom look at a camera as they photograph the Ruby Slippers on display in a case at the museum

Grandparents, parents, and children ask for the pair of sequin-covered, iridescent shoes more than any other object in the museum. When visitors were asked recently about their thoughts of the movie, they described it as magical, a wonderful fantasy, and scary. They said it represents hope, achievement, happiness, friendship, and, of course, the feeling that "There's no place like home." Older visitors remembered the first time they saw it. Children talked about how many times they've seen it.

The museum's Ruby Slippers are located at the entrance to the American Stories exhibition—but they're not the only Oz object on display. Dorothy's magic world was created with a then-novel Technicolor camera. The camera, located in the Places of Invention exhibition, doesn't answer this question: What is so enduring about Dorothy's fantasy trip to Oz? Why does the story stick with us like it does?

To answer that question, we asked the movie's passionate fans: museum visitors.

"It was a magical theme of make-believe, a romantic adventure of a fantasy land," said Peterson, 68, the visitor who has Dorothy's words stenciled on his kitchen wall. "It had good music, catchy tunes, it was something people of any age could enjoy."

A woman smiles, standing beside a case in which the Ruby Slippers are displayed.

Newkirk recalled Oz-related festivities she enjoyed as a resident of Judy Garland's hometown, including tours of the big, white house where Garland was born, a Wizard of Oz festival, and the Judy Garland Museum.

To Newkirk, 52, the movie's other famous line, "There's no place like home," has a special meaning. "She thought everything would be better if it was different, but then wanted to go home to her small town and family," Newkirk said. "It paralleled my life. I'm a small-town girl. I do relate to Judy as Dorothy."

The film's multi-generational appeal is seen at the museum every day.

Girl with blonde hair takes a photo of the Ruby Slippers in a display case. The image can be seen on the screen of her camera.

Kylie Rovnak, 13, from Sarasota, Florida, who played a Munchkin in a Wizard play, said she loved the movie because of its characters searching for what they needed most: a heart for Tin Man, a brain for Scarecrow, and courage for Lion. "One represents love, the Tin Man. Scarecrow wants to be smart. The Lion wants courage. It [the movie] shows that it's within you" to get what you most desire.

Added Parson Rose, 10, of Greensboro, North Carolina, "We all need to find something we don't have. We don't have something but we really want it. The Tin Man didn't have a heart and it made me feel sad." But to Allison Rector, 10, of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, the film meant "happiness, because the Wicked Witch is dead."

The film's fans are all over the world. To Danielle Hodder, 28, visiting from Townsville, Australia, "It's a story of hope. It's about something that every person wants to achieve. It's about friendship. They all have to see the great Wizard."

A man in a burgundy shirt poses beside the Ruby Slippers, hands in pockets, smiling

Raymond Lapointe, of Lincoln, Rhode Island, is 61 but said, "I still remember the Wicked Witch scared the daylights out of me. I couldn't sleep."

Two women pose with big smiles near the Ruby Slippers case in the museum

At age 74, Molla Siegel, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, is joining her two grandchildren and their parents this Halloween in wearing Wizard costumes. Her six-year-old granddaughter came up with the idea of the whole family dressing up as characters in the movie. "I'm going to be the good witch," she said.

Kerry Ruiz, 59, of Chino, California, said the movie was "magical. It was love. It was strength. Dorothy was resilient." And Barbara DeAngelis, of Staten Island, New York, said the film shows "you're not far from home if you keep dreaming."

A man in a white shirt with blue stripes looks into a case. Inside the clear Plexiglass of the case, Dorothy's Ruby Slippers are on a yellow platform.

Scarecrow actor Ray Bolger once said of the movie, "The philosophy of Oz is man's search for basic human needs—a heart, brains, courage. And that, chum, will never be old hat."

And after the film became a regular on television, Tin Man actor Jack Haley described the movie's staying power this way: "The Wizard of Oz is a toy for a new group of kids every year."

Barely two weeks after opening, The Hollywood Spectator shared a perspective that endured. "The Wizard of Oz is much more than a visual treat," the publication said. "It is a really human document, one with a lesson in it, one of the few to which grandfather can take his grandchild and both of them find entertaining…it is a piece of screen entertainment which can be shown every year from now on."

Larry Margasak is a retired Washington journalist. He is a volunteer with the museum's ambassadors, who roam the building to assist visitors, and also is a volunteer researcher and writer for several divisions of the museum. His last blog post was about Hollywood during World War II.


It's not the end of the journey for Dorothy and her friends at the Smithsonian. We have big news coming down the yellow brick road on Monday! 

Graphic including one Ruby Slipper and text "keep them ruby"

Author(s): 
volunteer Larry Margasak
Posted Date: 
Sunday, October 23, 2016 - 11:00
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You Don't Need to Wait for Spring to Enjoy the Smithsonian Gardens

Smithsonian Magazine

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So if you’ve a penchant to find roses by the name of amber queen, angel face, Charlotte Armstrong, or Purple Tiger, make your way to the Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden near the Smithsonian’s Castle building.

But if you think that you shall never see a poem lovely as a tree, you haven’t visited yet the Pollinator’s Garden where there among the staghorn sumac and river birch trees “the grace of swallows arc and nestly softly ‘pon the lithe hewn limb.”

Want to know where you can hide surrounded by sky blue Virginia bluebells and dainty columbine in a forest of 33,000 trees, shrubs and perennials smack dab in the heart of the nation’s capital? At the American Indian Museum’s Native Landscape Garden, the cars on nearby Independence Avenue are completely muffled by the chirps and calls of native birds and amphibians in the garden’s glorious inland pand.

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr/ Karon Flage. Haupt Garden (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr/ Karon Flage. Haupt Garden (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr/ John Boggan. Strophanthus preussii (Apocynaceae), Haupt Garden (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr/ John Boggan. Milkweed bug nypmphs, Pollinator Garden (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr. Lenton Rose, Ripley Garden (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr/ John Boggan. Aristolochia, Ripley Garden (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr/ DC Gardens. Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr/ DC Gardens. Pollinator Garden (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr/ DC Gardens. Ripley Garden (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr/ Colin Bainbridge. Canna Orange Punch, Haupt Garden (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr/ Colin Bainbridge. Solenum Quitoense, Enid Haupt Garden (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr. Ripley Garden (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr/ DC Gardens. Pollinator Garden (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr/ Sara Eguren. Passiflora, Pollinators Garden (original image)

Image by Smithsonian Gardens Flickr/ DC Gardens. Victory Garden (original image)

Serenity has arrived in this handy Garden Lovers Tour from Smithsonian.com

Visit the gardens as part of your museum wanderings and find heirloom plantings like Johnny Jump-Ups and pie squash, and learn more about the American tradition of passing from generation to generation. See the symmetrical flower patterns in the Haupt Garden’s parterre and stroll the tree-lined pathways. Visit the Auguste Rodin and Joan Miró sculptures nestled in the Zen-like green space at the Hirshhorn’s intimate and calming sunken garden.

The award-winning, responsive-design website fits your phone, tablet and computer and can be used to make an itinerary for easy printout and planning—just simply select the gardens you want to visit and create your itinerary. You can also use the Smithsonian.com Museum Tour guide to find artifacts and other highlights for your visit simply by navigating to the museum and selecting the items you are looking for.

And when your feet are beet, lettuce help you find a quiet garden resting place.  

You Could Soon Roam With Dinosaurs at a Realistic (Animatronic) Jurassic Park

Smithsonian Magazine

Dinosaur fans could soon have a new destination on their list: Japan.

At a recent expo, Japanese entrepreneurs announced plans to build an animatronic dinosaur park called "Dino-A-Park," according to The Telegraph. The project would create a dinosaur park full of life-size, human-operated robotic dinosaurs based on actual fossils and made out of a carbon fiber.

Kazuya Kanemaru, CEO of On-ART, a company that creates enormous art balloons, proposed the idea and said he hopes to finance it in 2017 and complete the park or multiple parks within the next four to five years.

At the recent expo, a demonstration dinosaur takes a bite out of its keeper.

Dino-A-Park, the proposed park featuring what the company calls the Dino-A-Live experience, will not be the first attempt to recreate the world of the beloved Jurassic Park franchise.

The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia is set to unveil its Jurassic World: The Exhibition later this week, which includes seven animatronic dinosaurs and will run Nov 25 to April 17, 2017. Philadelphia is the first stop on a North American tour.

Dinosaur aficionados also can get close to where real-life dinosaurs once roamed by visiting the Moab Giants park in Utah. The location was once home to dinosaurs, and now the expansive desert park is populated by life-size dinosaur replicas, as well as educational exhibits including a dinosaur tracks exhibit.

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You Can Write Inside Mark Twain’s Library

Smithsonian Magazine

Mark Twain, the famously prolific author assured other writers that “you need not expect to get your book right the first time.” But what if you have writer's block and need even more inspiration? As Inhabitat’s Nicole Jewell reports, you might find it at Mark Twain’s house, which recently opened up Twain’s library for use by writers.

The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, now offers writers the chance to write inside Twain’s library for three-hour stretches. The house already offers a number of workshops and classes, but the chance to write uninterrupted in Samuel Clemens’ study is a rare one.

The lavish, Victorian-era library was one of the crowning features of Clemens’ home, which he lived in between 1874 and 1903. Inside, members of the family would recite poetry and Clemens would entertain guests with excerpts from his new works. But though it’s filled with literary spirit, it’s not where Clemens wrote his books.

Clemens was eager to move into his dream home despite construction delays, and recorded the progress of his study in letters to friends. “Day before yesterday, the most notable feature of the furniture for my study came at last,” he wrote in 1875, several months after he moved in. “But alas for human hopes and plans, I had to move out yesterday & write in a bedroom; & tomorrow I shall move my inkstand permanently into a corner of the billiard room. If ever the babies get beyond fretting & crying (the nursery adjoins the study), then I shall move back again.”

Clemens never left the billiard room; he liked the quiet and used the huge billiard table as a place to lay out his manuscripts. He wrote some of his most famous books there, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn​ and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. But the book-lined space writers will have access to inside the historic house is just as inspiring. Writers can bring computers or paper inside for their work, though there’s no wifi and no power outlets. And pens are strictly forbidden. There’s another perk, too: Jewell notes that writers will be able to tour the house on their own during their miniature literary sojourn.

The chance to write in a historic home, let alone one associated with an American literary icon, is unusual. But it’s no opportunity for starving artists: a three-hour slot must be reserved in advance and costs $50. Then again, it might just be worth it for a chance to commune with Clemens in the house where he wrote some of the greatest works of American literature.

You Can Visit A Cave Where the Ancient Maya Sacrificed Humans

Smithsonian Magazine

If you’re looking for a last minute summer vacation, why not take a tropical vacation to Belize to visit a place of ritual human sacrifice?

That would be the Actun Tunichil Muknal Natural Monument, where, the Daily Beast writes, archaeologists have uncovered evidence of human use dating from around 250 A.D. to 909 A.D. According to the Belize Audubon Society, the ancient Maya people believed that the cave was home to gods who controlled agriculture and rain. The name Actun Tunichil Muknal means Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre.

The cave is in roughly the same condition it was in when it was discovered in 1989. From the Beast:

Pottery and sacrificial tools naturally cemented to the ground or hidden around the cave’s stalagmites and layers also offer evidence. The “Stelae Chamber” boasts two stone markers, thought to be where high-level community leaders performed rituals to the gods. Sharp rock blades found nearby indicate they cut themselves to offer their own blood. Ancient bowls feature so-called “kill holes,” possibly to drain blood or allow a spirit to escape. One less sinister piece of pottery, known as the “Monkey Pot” for a primate decoration near the rim, drew attention as one among only four ever discovered in Central America.

Then there are the remains of the sacrificial victims. In the main room, seven adults and seven children can still be seen, their bones cemented to the cave floor over the centuries. Another victim known as the Crystal Maiden is in a different portion of the cave. After her murder—experts believe she was clubbed to death—her bones became encased in calcite crystals.  

While (thankfully) the practice of human sacrifice stopped a long time ago, getting to the cave is still something of a challenge. You do have to be in good physical condition to swim to its opening, and only two tour operators are permitted to guide visitors to the national monument. 

You Can Only See a Fraction of These Publicly Owned British Artworks

Smithsonian Magazine

British embassies and government offices around the world are adorned with paintings, prints and sculptures by British artists, including Andy Warhol, William Hogarth and Lucian Freud. The works are just a small fraction of the country's massive art collection that, though publicly owned, is largely kept from general viewing. Now, a Parliamentary official is calling for the British government to create a new, public gallery to showcase some of these artworks, John Bingham reports for the Telegraph.

“There are over 20,000 publicly-owned works of art that are not accessible to the majority of the public—that is not good enough,” Michael Dugher, the UK's Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport, tells Bingham. “A small part of the Palace of Westminster should be put aside to become a free public art gallery.”

The Parliamentary and Government taxpayer-funded art collections hold a combined 22,000 artworks, which are intended to promote British art and cultural diplomacy. But only a few of the pieces can be viewed for a fee by tourists visiting the House of Parliament, Sarah Cascone reports for artnet News

If a public gallery was created, Dugher tells Bingham, "The works from the Parliamentary Art Collection and the Government Art Collection could then be rotated on a regular basis so that all art lovers, academics and art students would be able to access the historic collections."

Parliament officials setting aside taxpayer money for art is a touchy subject for some. While members of Parliament argue that it is important to support and showcase British artists, some criticized the government after a 2014 report revealed that British officials had spent about 250,000 pounds (approximately $366,000) in taxpayer money on official portraits over the course of two decades, James Edgar wrote for the Telegraph at the time.

The United Kingdom isn’t the only country to restrict access to a government-owned art collection. In the United States, the Central Intelligence Agency also has a history of keeping information on its small collection of artworks close to the chest. (From what little information she could gather from research and requests to the CIA, artist Johanna Barron recreated the pieces for a recent art installation at San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum.) However, the CIA’s art collection is dwarfed by the British government's acquisitions.

Highlights from the Government Art Collection were shown to the public for the first time in its 113-year history in an exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery back in 2011, but that show was temporary. If Dugher can convince enough members of Parliament, his proposal would establish the first permanent, dedicated gallery to these collections, P.C. Robinson writes for ArtLyst.

“All these great works of art are publicly owned so it is only right that everyone, not just a privileged few, should have the opportunity to see and learn from them,” Dugher tells Bingham.

For now, the best way to see selections from these collections is to book a tour of Parliament or to view them online. The Government Art Collection also has an interactive map on its website showing every building around the world that houses works from its collection.

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