Navy Art Traveling Exhibition Program

Navy Art exhibits are available for loans of three to six months (except as noted) to museums and institutions that meet eligibility requirements. There is no participation fee and the only costs are shipping, handling, and insurance. A written request and completed facility report are needed to initiate loan approval (send to Navy Art Collection; Washington Navy Yard; Building 67; Washington, DC 20374-5060). An example of the works included accompany the description of each exhibit. The exhibits are outlined below.

1. WWII Navy Art: A Vision of History--During World War II, the Navy implemented a combat art program of Navy personnel who were also artists. They were sent to serve in combat zones and to portray their experiences in art form. This exhibit of 32 paintings, watercolors, and drawings highlights the work of the eight World War II Navy combat artists--Standish Backus, Griffith Baily Coale, William F. Draper, Mitchell Jamieson, Edward Millman, Albert K. Murray, Alexander P. Russo, and Dwight Clark Shepler.

Wounded Marine being hoisted onto an LSTA Warrior Homeward Bound
William F. Draper #103
Oil on canvas, March, 1944
Navy Art Collection

This wounded Marine, a casualty of the assault wave on the beaches of Guam, is tenderly hoisted by his comrades from an LVT to an LST.




2. "Remembering the Forgotten War: Korea, 1950-1953" is an exhibit of 36 drawings and watercolors. President Truman called the Korean War a testing ground between communism and democracy. It is portrayed with crisp, idealistic images by two Navy combat artists, Herbert C. Hahn and Hugh Cabot, showing the assurance Americans brought to this "police action."

A brochure of this exhibit is available.

Invasion of InchonInchon
Herbert C. Hahn #53
Colored pencil drawing
Navy Art Collection

Because Inchon harbor was so shallow, the timing of the invasion had to be synchronized precisely with the autumn high tides so landing craft could make it to the shore without running aground on the mud flats. In addition, Wolmi Island provided defenders with a strong garrison flanking the harbor. In spite of intelligence warning of the attack, the overextended North Korean army was unable to stop the Allies. The city fell with Allied losses of only 20 dead and 179 wounded.


3. Navy Medical Art of the Abbott Collection--Four civilian artists hired by Abbott Laboratories as art correspondents during World War II are featured in this exhibit of 96 painting, watercolors, and drawings. The artists were sent to military activities in the United States and abroad and their work highlighted the need and role of medicine during time of war. The art travelled extensively throughout the country during the war to aid the war effort.

Jeep moving through the dense Jungle

Jeep Turns Ambulance
Kerr Eby #43
Pastel drawing, 1943
Navy Art Collection, Gift of Abbott Laboratories

One of the great innovations of the war, the pug-nosed jeep, becomes an ambulance on the Bougainville jungle front. Though often painfully jolting to the wounded on its journey through the twisted trails of the jungle, the jeep at least gets the casualties away from the firing lines speedily. Plasma transfusions are sometimes given enroute, despite the rocky motion.



4. D-Day, Normandy--Navy Combat artists documented the invasion of Normandy, recording this turning point in World War II. The 63 watercolors and drawings are chronologically arranged and represent the impressions of three combat artists who took part in this historic action.

Men on the deck waiting to be loaded into the assault craftCold Dawn of D-Day
Mitchell F. Jamieson #213-A2
Ink and wash on paper
Navy Art Collection

The first assault waves can only wonder what awaits as they stare at the distant coastline that is barely discernible. The boats, suspended on davits, seem part of the dark threat of dawn off the Normandy coast as H-Hour approaches.





5. The Navy Art of Standish Backus--Backus developed in the style of the California watercolorists of the 1930s. As a Navy artist, he was part of the first wave that entered Japan in 1945 as well as covering Operation Antartica in 1956-57. The 23 paintings, watercolors, and drawings demonstrate his skill in depicting the emotional gamut from the horrors of Hiroshima to the stillness of Antartica.

Pump Station in Antarctica

One-Mile Pump Station
Standish Backus #35
Watercolor, 1956

Six miles of unbreakable sea ice at the southern end of McMurdo Sound necessitated establishing a portable pipeline through which aviation gasoline and arctic diesel oil were discharged from the ships to waiting tanks erected by Seabees at one-mile intervals. These camps also doubled as the Antarctic version of the drive-in restaurant, sometimes providing hot coffee for the pipeline patrol and crews of the passing tractor trains. At the ice-edge in the background, off loading cargo lies the Coast Guard icebreaker Eastwind, next to the tanker Nespelen, and YOG-34.



6. Naval Aviation of WWII--From blimps to aircraft carriers, the civilian artists hired by Abbott Laboratories as art correspondents, depicted the glamour and danger of naval aviation. This exhibit contains 81 works. All the works may not be available and the exhibit can be shorten if necessary.

Pilot walking away from his plane

Flight's End
Georges Schreiber #8
Oil on canvas
Navy Art Collection

His parachute swung comfortably over his shoulder, a Navy pilot returns to squadron headquarters to check in after a flight at Pensacola, Florida. Behind him, a beaching crew hoists a Vought-Sikorsky observation-scout onto the concrete hangar ramp. This operation is the same as that followed at sea, where scouting planes are hoisted back board after being catapulted from the deck of cruiser or battleship.



7. Amphibious Operations in the Pacific Theater--Works by artists, hired by Abbott Laboratories, Reginald Marsh, Kerr Eby, and others vividly illustrate the amphibious war waged at Tarawa, the Philippines and other Pacific islands. This exhibit contains a total of 95 painting, watercolors, and drawings. (The works by Thomas Hart Benton are NOT included in the traveling show. They are part of the Benton traveling exhibit listed further down the page).

Marine making his way over barbed wire to the beachBullets and Barbed Wire
Kerr Eby #4
Charcoal drawing
Navy Art Collection

Both constituted tremendous barriers to victory in the bloody battle for Tarawa; but this Marine, rifle swung grimly in one hand, typifies the resurgent spirit of the thinned but indomitable ranks of the conquerors of the Gilberts. Past the brutal wire on which hung the bodies of his comrades the tattered Marine presses on toward the beach and the redoubts of the enemy.



8. The Vietnam Experience--is strongly interpreted in this selection of 24 paintings, watercolors, and drawings by six combat artists. From the well-known majestic painting Sudden Squall to a vignette drawing of the Catlo market, this exhibit artistically illustrates the varying experiences of the Vietnam war.

the USS Haven and USS Coral Sea at Yankee Station

Sudden Squall
Tonkin Gulf
R. G. Smith, 1970.97
Oil on canvas, November 1969

The USS De Haven (DD-727) provides anti-aircraft and anti-submarine protection for the carrier USS Coral Sea (CV-43) while on Yankee Station, an operational staging area just off the coast of North Vietnam. The winter monsoon in that region is characterized by consistent heavy clouds and rainfall that make operations difficult.





9. Desert Shield/Storm--A visual story of events in the 1991 conflict in the Middle East as seen by Navy artist John Charles Roach. The 50 paintings and watercolors illustrate the multiple roles of the Navy in modern warfare.

Flight to Baghdad (DD-964)
John Charles Roach 1991.30
Navy Art Collection






10. The Navy Art of Thomas Hart Benton--This well-known American artist was commissioned by Abbott Laboratories to capture the spirit of the Navy. The 24 works in the collection range in subject matter from shipbuilding, scenes on board, and war preparations and are primarily drawings and watercolor, but also include three paintings. NOTE: Due to the fragility of this collection, the exhibit is only available for loans of four to six weeks. NOTE: Score Another for the Subs is NOT in the traveling exhibit.

Launching of an LST

Cut the Line
Thomas Hart Benton #23
Oil on board, 1944
Navy Art Collection, Gift of Abbott Laboratories

Last episode in the birth of an LST--the launching. While the audience leans forward with the breathless expectation of racetrack fans lining the rail to shout "They're Off!" the foreman of the crew holds his hat high. Seconds later the hat came down, the crowd roared, the lines were cut and a new ship had joined Uncle Sam's landing craft armada.





11. The First & Second War for Independence--A selection of 30 engravings depicting naval events from the American Revolution and the War of 1812, most are contemporary to the period they depict. A highlight of this exhibit is the earliest known engraving of John Paul Jones.

John Paul Jones
Artist unknown
Engraving, 1779
Printed in Amsterdam
Navy Art Collection

The earliest known engraved portrait of Jones, he was reportedly sketched while attending the theater in Amsterdam three weeks after his celebrated encounter with HMS Serapis.


12. A View from the Periscope--highlights of the submarine service including a drawing of the first submarine, Hunley as well as 27 other paintings and works on paper from World War II to the present. An expanded version of this exhibit can be made available with the addition of works from any of the following specialized collections--World War II Silent Service, Disney Studio Insignia, and the 1986 submarine series painted by John Charles Roach.

Sub seen from the conning towerNathaniel Greene (SSBN-636) Underway, March 29, 1965,
for 21st Polaris shot

Edward Terhune Wilbur #11
Watercolor, 1969
Navy Art Collection

13. Images of the War, 1941-1945--31 painting, watercolors, and drawings by artists who were there evoke the experiences of sailors and marines in World War II. Arranged chronologically , the exhibit begins with the sinking of USS Reuben James while the United States was still neutral and ends with the signing of the surrender by the Japanese on the USS Missouri.

Mustard Gas Drill
Reginald Marsh #4
Navy Art Collection, Gift of Abbott Laboratories






14. Women in Uniform From a Yeoman (F) in WWI to a contemporary aviator, this exhibition features works of art from the Navy Art Collection that depict female Navy military personnel. Women have had a continuous and growing presence in the U.S. Navy throughout the 20th and into the 21st century. Whenever international or domestic events dictated the need, the Navy expanded its opportunities for women to serve.

WAVE Radio Operator
John Falter
Oil on canvas, 1943




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