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Smithsonian Books releases First Ladies Book showcasing dresses, tableware, and invitations
First Ladies Collection: Grace Coolidge. Detail from "The Smithsonian First Ladies Collection" by Lisa Kathleen Graddy and Amy Pastan from Smithsonian Books.
WASHINGTON, DC.- The Smithsonian First Ladies Collection is a lavishly illustrated book inspired by one of the most popular attractions at the Smithsonian: “The First Ladies” exhibition at the National Museum of American History. The book showcases dresses, tableware, invitations and other memorabilia from the collection. It features the treasures of many First Ladies, from Martha Washington’s silk dress to Michelle Obama’s 2009 inaugural gown and jewelry, and covers the complete collection, even the many objects too rare or fragile to be put on public view.

Not only a visual celebration of these treasures, the book also illuminates the lives and legacies of the extraordinary women who owned them. Personal biographies of the First Ladies explore how they adapted when thrust into an influential and visible role by happenstance of marriage (or, as in the case of the daughters and nieces who filled the role, happenstance of birth). Since the “job” of First Lady is unofficial and does not come with a specific list of responsibilities, each First Lady made it her own. Over time, First Ladies took on significant roles as campaigners, hostesses, policy advocates and role models, influencing their presidential administrations and American society as a whole.

The Smithsonian First Ladies Collection also includes archival photographs of the featured First Ladies in action; an insider’s look at the acquisition, conservation and exhibition of the pieces; and a timeline of all 46 First Ladies. It is a testament to these women and their roles in American culture and political life.

Lisa Kathleen Graddy is deputy chair of the Division of Political History at the National Museum of American History. She is the curator of “The First Ladies” exhibition and the collections of woman suffrage and women’s political history. Amy Pastan is a Washington, D.C.-based author, editor and photo researcher. A former staff editor at the Smithsonian, she currently writes and produces books for both adults and children. Among her recent titles is The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia.

Today's News

March 28, 2014

"Alma-Tadema and the British painters of the 19th century" on view in Rome

One of George Stubbs' most celebrated works to lead Sotheby's London Old Master sale

Getty Museum acquires sixty-six photographs by Contemporary artist Arthur Tress

German recluse ready to return Nazi-looted art; Matisse's "Sitting Woman" will be the first

"Pasture to Pond: Connecticut Impressionism" on view at the Bruce Museum

Exhibition of new sculptures and paintings by Julião Sarmento opens at Sean Kelly

The Studio Museum in Harlem announces spring 2014 exhibitions and projects

miart 2014 hosts over 148 international art and design galleries for its 19th edition

Straight from Berlin: Paintings and works on paper by Uwe Kowski and Jörg Herold opens at Ruiz-Healy Art

Galerie Springer Berlin presents Water Part II by Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky

The Museo Reina Sofía presents the first Hanne Darboven individual exhibition in Spain

Smithsonian Books releases First Ladies Book showcasing dresses, tableware, and invitations

Venice Biennale 2015: Florian Ebner appointed commissioner of the German pavilion

First auction devoted to vernacular photography at Swann Galleries April 17

Heather Gaudio Fine Art showcases works by Esteban Vicente

PAD has filled the Tuileries Gardens fair with the crème de la cèrme of French and international dealers

National Portrait Gallery unveils its latest commissioned portrait...Dame Monica Mason

Antiquorum to auction Paul Newman's racing suit & helmet

MoMA PS1 presents the first museum presentation of Halil Altindere's work in the United States

Five galleries from Amsterdam and five galleries from Berlin announced for Gallery Weekend Berlin

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