Sculpture, architecture, photography, and design

Sculpture and architecture created a sense of civic identity, while photography memorialized America's grandeur and exposed its growing inequities.

1800 - 1900

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Inventing America, Colt’s Experimental Pocket Pistol
Inventing America, Colt’s Experimental Pocket Pistol

The gun that "won the West" also transformed American manufacturing and marketing.

Anna Pottery, Snake jug
Anna Pottery, Snake jug

The makers of this ostentatious ceramic jug used images from popular satire to poke fun at the Civil War politics.

William Howard (attributed), Writing desk
William Howard (attributed), Writing desk

This eclectic assortment of carved objects speaks to the experience of a formerly-enslaved man in the post-Civil War South.

The light of democracy — examining the Statue of Liberty
The light of democracy — examining the Statue of Liberty

Two countries honor their love of democracy with a huge statue of a woman! Neither let women vote, though.

Hiram Powers, <em>The Greek Slave</em>
Hiram Powers, The Greek Slave

Though at first glance this nude seems plucked from classical antiquity, it actually alludes to modern politics.

John Quincy Adams Ward, <em>The Freedman</em>
John Quincy Adams Ward, The Freedman

This remarkable work honors those who fought for their own freedom, but acknowledges that the struggle goes on.

Seneca Village: the lost history of African Americans in New York
Seneca Village: the lost history of African Americans in New York

The creation of a beloved landmark destroyed a thriving community of African Americans and Irish immigrants.

Herter Brothers, Mark Hopkins House Side Chair
Herter Brothers, Mark Hopkins House Side Chair

This fancy chair was made for outrageously rich Americans, but its modern style owes much to Japanese design.

Carrère & Hastings, The New York Public Library
Carrère & Hastings, The New York Public Library

Visitors are welcomed into this monumental temple of knowledge by two lions named Patience and Fortitude.

Shrady and Casey, <em>Ulysses S. Grant Memorial</em>
Shrady and Casey, Ulysses S. Grant Memorial

Shrady’s sneaky self-portrait within this sculpture took on tragic connotations after the monument claimed his life.

Robert Mills and Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lincoln Casey, Washington Monument
Robert Mills and Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lincoln Casey, Washington Monument

Unlike the other monuments on the Mall, this monument tells us virtually nothing about the man it commemorates.

Jacob Riis, <em>“Knee-Pants” at Forty-Five Cents a Dozen—A Ludlow Street Sweater’s Shop</em>, from <em>How the Other Half Lives</em>
Jacob Riis, “Knee-Pants” at Forty-Five Cents a Dozen—A Ludlow Street Sweater’s Shop, from How the Other Half Lives

Riis snapped photos of the urban poor during midnight police raids—but only because he cared.

Selected Contributors