Springfield Museums Press Releases

Hail to the Chief: Power, Politics and Presidents Portrayed by Currier & Ives

Michele & Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts

June 25, 2012

Just in time for the Fourth of July and in anticipation of the November presidential election, the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is presenting an exhibition that pays tribute to the American Presidency. Hail to the Chief: Power, Politics and Presidents Portrayed by Currier & Ives will be on view from June 26, 2012 through January 20, 2013.

During their seven decades in business, Currier & Ives produced nearly 9,000 print designs that were distributed nationally through a successful marketing network. The lithography firm printed pictures at an affordable price that reflected public interests of the time. The images covered all aspects of society, including politics and commerce.

Currier & Ives glorified the founding fathers and American heroes and the prints constituted one of the largest segments of the firm's business. The most frequently depicted subjects were George Washington and Abraham Lincoln; however, group portraits were also popular and widely collected.

Included in the exhibit is an image of George Washington’s inauguration. In another print, an African-American man kisses the hand of President Abraham Lincoln who is standing on broken shackles, symbolic of breaking the chains of slavery. Still another image is an 1845 group portrait of all eleven presidents up to that date.

In the political arena, Currier & Ives did not play favorites, often printing promotional material for both parties, and covering all points of view on social issues. Hail to the Chief highlights imagery that helped to create a visual lexicon for the young American nation and reinforced sentiments of patriotism and democratic ideals.

Summer admission is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and college students, $8 for children 3-17, and free for children under three and museum members. General admission is free for Springfield residents with proof of address.  

The admission fee includes access to the all special exhibitions, including Hail to the Chief; LEGO® Castle Adventure; Tiffany Lamps: Articles of Utility, Objects of Art; In Company with Angels: Seven Rediscovered Tiffany Windows; Storm Stories: Path of Fury; and Stickwork: Outdoor Sculpture by Patrick Dougherty.

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