Saturday, April 9, 2011

Civil War at the Smithsonian: Starr Center Sponsors Free Road Trip to Washington

CHESTERTOWN, MD— This month, the nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of America’s defining drama. To mark this milestone, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and the Washington College Department of Art & Art History will sponsor an exciting day of Civil War exploration in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, April 23.

A free bus will depart Chestertown at 11 a.m. and leave Washington at 7:30 p.m. Reservations are required; please contact Jenifer Emleyat 410-810-7161 or Those interested in meeting the group in Washington should also contact Jenifer Emley to make arrangements.

The program will include a tour of Civil War-era art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum led by Professor Donald McColl and Smithsonian art historian Barbaranne Liakos, a 1998 alumnus of Washington College. Members of the group will have an opportunity to explore a building that hosted Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural ball and sheltered a Union army hospital where Walt Whitman tended injured soldiers.

At 2 p.m. Starr Center director Adam Goodheart will give a public talk on his new book, 1861: The Civil War Awakening (Knopf, 2011), in the museum’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium. Jointly sponsored by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, Goodheart’s talk will be followed by a book signing.

Participants will also receive a special guided tour of Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office. During its two years of operation (1865-1867), the Missing Soldiers Office helped families and friends track the fate of the thousands of men missing in action at the end of the Civil War. Located directly across the street from the building that houses the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, the building housing the Missing Soldiers Office is under restoration, and is not regularly open to the public.

There will even be an opportunity for dinner in the house where Abraham Lincoln’s assassination was plotted—a building that now houses a Chinese restaurant! “When we think of Civil War history, we often think of the Shenandoah Valley, or the battlefield at Gettysburg,” says Goodheart. “But our nation’s capital has its own remarkable Civil War story.”

Space on the bus and tours is limited, so those interested should contact the Starr Center immediately. Goodheart’s lecture is open seating; for more information, visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum events calendar.

Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Based in the Custom House along the colonial waterfront, the College’s C.V. Starr Center fosters the art of written history and explores our nation’s past—particularly the legacy of its Founding era—in innovative ways, through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach. For more information on the Center, visit