Carnegie Mellon University

Alexander von Humboldt

November 06, 2020

Osher at CMU Lecture Series presents "Alexander Von Humboldt & the United States: Art, Nature & Culture" by Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian’s American Art Museum’s current exhibition reveals how Prussian naturalist & explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) shaped American perceptions of nature & the way American cultural identity became grounded in our relationship with the environment. Humboldt, one of the most influential figures of the nineteenth century, spent only 6 weeks in the United States. Yet his ideas continue to influence artists writers & politicians into the 21st century. On September 14, 1869, the centennial of Alexander von Humboldt’s birth was celebrated worldwide. In Pittsburgh President Ulysses Grant attended the celebrations together with 10,000 revelers who brought the city to a standstill, and there wasn’t a terrible towel in sight! Learn about the most famous man you may never have heard of. We won’t ignore the "elephant in the room" as we explore works by American artists in SAAMs collection & other international works on loan for this special exhibition.

Lee Ann Lawch has been a docent at the Smithsonian American Art Museum since 2009. In addition to leading gallery tours, she offers outreach programs such as this one and participates in SAAM's distance learning program, reaching schools, OLLIs and inquisitive groups of all ages both domestically and internationally.