George Washington: A National Treasure
An exhibition’s companion Web site features interactives that detail the artistic, biographical, and symbolic elements in a monumental portrait of our first president.
What stories does one painting hold? What can a painting reveal about its subject, its artist, and the context in which it was painted? George Washington: A National Treasure, a site for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery, invites visitors on an exploratory journey into one of the most famous and iconic images of George Washington: the Lansdowne portrait painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1796. Considered a true national treasure, the portrait conveys the symbolic power of one man’s stabilizing leadership in a fragile world. The focal point of the site includes two very different interactive portraits: one that enables visitors to learn about the painting through three different interpretations, and an interactive mystery that encourages kids to learn about Washington by uncovering clues in the painting. The site also includes a George Washington chronology, lesson plans, and a Town Hall forum for visitors to exchange reactions and ideas.
Press & Awards“History Bytes,” AASLH History News, 2005
It is an excellent example of guided exploration of a painting as the basis to learn about the sitter. The user can use three filters to explore the portrait—symbolic, biographic and artistic—each offering a different interpretation. The is an excellent model of an approach that could be used with many other artistic works.“14th Annual Muse Awards,” AAM Museum News, Deborah Seid Howes, November 2003American Association of Museums Muse Awards, Silver, Art, 2003
George Washington: A National Treasure uses very innovative and engaging methods to explore a single portrait. The ‘filters’ that allow one to explore the work via allegory, history, etc. are very clever and represent using the medium in ways that would not be possible in printed materials...The format allows for the inclusion of a fair amount of historical information, which, in the case of the Landsdowne Portrait, is entirely appropriate...It brought to life a somewhat ‘boring’ painting, and show the significance and meaning behind it. It did this using innovative technology.Macromedia, Site of the Day, February 22, 2002USA Today, Hot Sites, February 18, 2002
The Smithsonian’s interactive tour of a famous portrait of our first president is a prime example of how the Web is capable of blending lavish eye-candy with information from an authoritative source.“A Portrait of Washington,” CBS News.com, February 17, 2002
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- Aleen Adams
- Gabe Kean
- Seb Chevrel, Sam Ward
- Tom Allen
- Motion Designer
- Martin Linde
- Production Artist
- Martin Linde
- Production Assistant
- David Waingarten