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Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial

September 15, 2013 – January 20, 2014
West Building, Main Floor, Galleries 65 and 66

Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848–1907), Shaw Memorial, 1900, patinated plaster, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, New Hampshire, on long-term loan to the National Gallery of Art, Washington

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

This exhibition celebrates Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ magisterial The Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial (1883–1900), considered by many to be one of the finest examples of 19th-century American sculpture. The monument commemorates the July 18, 1863, storming of Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina. The Civil War battle was waged by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, one of the first African American military units raised in the North. Although the 54th was defeated at Fort Wagner and almost a third of the regiment was killed—including Shaw himself—or wounded, the battle was seen as a turning point in the war: it proved that African Americans’ bravery and dedication to country equaled that of the nation’s most celebrated heroes.

When Saint-Gaudens created the monument, he based his likeness of Shaw on photographs of the colonel, but for his depiction of the other soldiers, he hired African American men to pose in his studio. This exhibition seeks to make real the soldiers of the 54th represented anonymously in the memorial. It brings together vintage photographic portraits of members of the regiment and of the men and women who recruited, nursed, taught, and guided them. It also features important related documents as well as works of art that show how the 54th, its famous assault, and the Shaw Memorial have continued to inspire artists in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Organization: The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Sponsor: The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of GRoW, an initiative of the Annenberg Foundation.

Additional support is provided by the Trellis Fund.

Attendance: 80,396

Catalog: Tell It With Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens Shaw Memorial, by Sarah Greenough et al. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2013.

Brochure: Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial by Lindsay Harris. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 2013.

Other Venues: Massachusetts Historical Society, February 21–May 23, 2014

Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
American, 1848 - 1907

The 54th Massachusetts Regiment
This roster
includes names of more than 1,500 soldiers and officers who served with the 54th Massachusetts Regiment at some point between March 1863 and April 1865. The men’s age, enlistment and mustered out dates, place of origin, profession at enlistment, rank, and company are also provided if known. Also listed, if known, is an individual’s fate at Fort Wagner. If it could be confirmed that a soldier was not present at Fort Wagner for any reason, he is listed here as “not present.”

Press Release

Exhibition Checklist

Gallery Shops: Exhibition Catalog

Classroom poster
Students consider the perspectives of soldiers as they joined the Civil War through careful looking at art images and use of creative writing prompts.

Online Lesson & Activity - The First African American Regiment
Students compare and contrast the experiences of the African American Regiment soldiers through their portrayal in letters, films (the motion picture, Glory, and a documentary film), and poetry, before writing their own poem using the sculpture as their inspiration.

Online Lesson & Activity - In Memoriam: Honoring Heroes & Heroines through Sculpture
Students reflect upon the role of public commemorative sculpture in the United States and research local monuments in their hometown.

Related Images
A set of 20 downloadable images related to the Civil War and the Shaw memorial.

Teaching packet
An 8-page booklet and an image CD or slideset with 20 works of art.

52-minute VHS, The Shaw Memorial: Power and Glory of Public Art

Forward 54th
Video, Released: December 9, 2014, (32:13 minutes)
Conservation of the Shaw Memorial: The Long Journey
Audio, Released: January 28, 2014, (31:36 minutes)
DJ Spooky: A Civil War Symphony
Audio, Released: December 3, 2013, (58:52 minutes)
Edward Zwick in Conversation
Audio, Released: November 12, 2013, (30:05 minutes)
War Memoranda: A Conversation with Binh Danh and Robert Schultz
Audio, Released: October 29, 2013, (58:36 minutes)
Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial
Audio, Released: October 1, 2013, (55:01 minutes)
Press Event: Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment
Audio, Released: September 10, 2013, (44:24 minutes)
"Shaw Memorial," 1900, Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Video, Released: November 1, 2011, (3:18 minutes)