Monday, August 16, 2010


Remember those Currier & Ives prints depicting an America of long ago? Or an American that never really existed but one we longed for?

The Morris Museum announces new exhibition:

The Legacy of Currier & Ives: Shaping the American Spirit
August 21, 2010 – January 9, 2011

Often found on calendars, cookie tins and Christmas cards, Currier & Ives images strike a nostalgic chord in many people. A selection of the firm’s hand-colored lithographs will be on view at the Morris Museum in the special exhibition The Legacy of Currier & Ives: Shaping the American Spirit.

The exhibition features 64 prints from the collection of the Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, Massachusetts. The exhibition explores the artistry behind the prints as well as the important role they played in forging an American self-image.

The Legacy of Currier & Ives: Shaping the American Spirit showcases some of Currier & Ives’ most popular themes.

  • The country’s pride in its emerging national identity is expressed through images of Civil War and Revolutionary War battles, patriotic symbols and famous founding fathers.
  • An idealized vision of home is depicted in pictures of bucolic farms, rural landscapes and happy, comfortable domestic scenes, often with a New England flavor.
  • The idea of progress is expressed in prints of railroads and steamboats, panoramic scenes of westward expansion, images of cities, impressive monuments and public works projects.
  • Scenes of leisure pastimes such as hunting, yachting and horse racing illustrate the rewards of achieving material and social success and celebrate America’s enjoyment of its newfound wealth and leisure time.
  • Another section of the exhibition describes the contributions of some of the well-known artists who designed prints for the firm, including Frances (Fanny) Flora Palmer, George Durrie, and Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait.
Currier & Ives became the longest running printing firm in the United States, producing more than 7,500 different images. From its inception, Currier & Ives produced prints that celebrated the American experience and created a visual history that has become part of the fabric of national consciousness.

Special Currier & Ives Programs
  • Senior Friday: Friday, September 17, 1:00 PM. Free with museum admission. Visit the Morris Museum for an early afternoon of art and conversation with museum staff. The program includes a highlights tour of the Currier & Ives exhibition, engaging discussion in the galleries, and light refreshments. Pre-registration is not required.
  • Lithographic Prints Workshop: The Techniques of Currier & Ives (for Adults): Saturday, September 25, 10 AM. – Noon. Program fee: $55 ($50 for museum members). In this workshop, led by a member of the Printmaking Council of New Jersey, you will learn how Currier & Ives were able to create their distinctive lithographic prints. Lithography is a process based on the fact that water and oil do not mix. An image is drawn on an aluminum plate or stone with oily materials. Printing is accomplished by alternately sponging the plate or stone with water and rolling it with ink. A sheet of paper is then placed on top of the image and passed through a lithography press. Learn about this technique and create your own lithographic print in this fun, hands-on workshop. All skill levels welcome. Pre-registration is required. Please call 973.971.3720 at least one week before the program date to register.
  • Currier & Ives: Art for Everyone: Thursday, Sept. 30, 6:30 PM. Program fee: $20 ($15 for museum members). Join Steve Miller, Currier & Ives Scholar and executive director emeritus of the Morris Museum for a presentation on the museum’s current Currier & Ives exhibition. Mr. Miller will introduce and discuss the Currier & Ives firm while examining its cultural and historical significance. There will be a question and answer session after the presentation. To reserve a space, please call 973.971.3718.

About the Morris Museum
The Morris Museum, located at 6 Normandy Heights Road (at the corner of Columbia Turnpike) in Morristown, NJ, is open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 11 AM to 5 PM; Thursday, 11 AM to 8 PM; and Sunday, 1-5 PM. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults and $7 for children, students and senior citizens. Admission is free for museum members and is free to the public every Thursday between 5 and 8 PM. For more information, call 973.971.3700, or visit