Decorating the White House with Smithsonian Art

Continuing a Washington tradition, the Obamas selected artwork from the Smithsonian collections to hang in their historic home

The tradition of Smithsonian museums loaning art to the White House began in the 1940s. (iStockphoto)


Dancer Putting on Stocking
(Maura McCarthy)

Edgar Degas
(c. 1896-1911, cast 1919-20)
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Degas subscribed to the ballet, which meant he had access to the backstage practice areas. It was this setting that inspired most of his paintings and sculptures. “He was fascinated,” Brougher says, “by the difference between the dancer on the stage and what they had to do to prepare backstage.”


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