DSA Members to Explore Images of Social Struggle at the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Washington Socialist <> March 2019

On March 2, DSA members will explore works of art highlighting political and social struggles in the United States in two Smithsonian museums that are off the beaten path for most tourists:  the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) and the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM, not to be confused with the better-known National Gallery of Art).

The tour, led by local member Bill Mosley and sponsored by Metro-DC DSA’s newly formed Socialist Heritage Caucus, will weave between the two museums, which is made possible by their location in the same building:  the historic Old Patent Office building at 8th and F Sts. NW, now rechristened as the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture.

Only a small percentage of artworks in the two museums are relevant to social struggles and left movements, but those that are should be on every socialist’s must-see list.  They include:

  • In the NPG, the busts of Eugene Debs and Samuel Gompers, other portraits of notable figures on the political left, and the permanent “Struggle for Justice” exhibit.
  • In the SAAM, paintings by labor artist Ralph Fasanella, the expressive paintings of early African American artist Bill Traylor, and works funded by New Deal programs depicting American at work.

The tour will include a visit to works in the Luce Foundation Center, the SAAM’S ‘visible storage area,” that are less frequently viewed by visitors.

The tour will run from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.  It has reached its limit on RSVPs but will be offered again if there is sufficient interest.

  • Bill Mosley


The Washington Socialist is the newsletter and editorial publication of Metro DC DSA. The views and opinions expressed here may not reflect those of the chapter, and publication of any information should not be considered an endorsement. For our chapter's official statements, please visit the Statements section of our main site.

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