Patriotic images of American history and heroes are on view at the Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield through July 8, 2007, in the special exhibition Liberty & Justice: American Ideals Portrayed by Currier & Ives.
The exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Before the era of photography and mass media, the lithography firm of Currier & Ives – the "printmakers to the people" – produced prints that created a visual history for the American public. Liberty & Justice: American Ideals Portrayed by Currier & Ives examines the firm's role in shaping American identity through images that defined the prevailing cultural, social, and political ideology. Included are pictures of great moments in American history, national heroes such as Presidents Washington and Lincoln, symbols of freedom such as the Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty, and other images created to express and foster national pride and patriotism. These quintessentially American images reflected what Americans wanted to believe about themselves and their nation. A virtual version of the exhibition is available on the Springfield Museums' website at www.springfieldmuseums.org. The Museum of Fine Arts holds 787 works by Currier & Ives, one of the largest public collections of Currier & Ives lithographs in the country. Selections from the collection are displayed in thematic exhibitions throughout the year in the Lenore B. and Sidney A. Alpert Gallery, the country's only permanent museum gallery devoted to the work of Currier & Ives. The gallery also houses a Currier & Ives resource center with a searchable database of the entire collection and information about 19th-century American art, prints, and social and cultural history.