Paintings of the Space Age

October 12-December 7

Although the National Air and Space Museum is known internationally for its impressive collection of objects and crafts pertaining to America’s history in aviation and space exploration, it is less known for having a collection of artworks. With help from the Smithsonian’s Affiliations Program, the Polk Museum of Art will exhibit a sampling of artworks produced in the 1960s after 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. 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.