Daniel Grant catalogs in the Wall Street Journal the federal government’s massive holdings proving, once again, that the US government is the mother of all corporations. The Treasury department has many works that tell the history of the agency but the core of the collection are portraits of Alexander Hamilton:
One finds the same type of exhibition at the Senate Office Building (portraits of Senate leaders, sculpted busts of the nation’s vice presidents, furniture used by senators and assorted whatnot), the House of Representatives (portraits of speakers, furniture, things best described as artifacts), the Supreme Court (sculpted busts and oil portraits of justices, photographs of the Supreme Court building, furniture and memorabilia), the Federal Reserve (paintings, many on the theme of currency, and portraits of Fed chairmen), and the Office of the Architect of the Capitol (sculptures, portraits of members of Congress, photographs of the Capitol). There are also collections at the State Department (paintings, furniture, decorative objects), Blair House (paintings, antique household furnishings), the Defense Department (combat art) and the White House.
About 600,000 visitors tour the White House every year, passing through eight rooms and looking into two others, where selected items from a collection of 5,000 to 6,000 pieces of fine and decorative art (carpets, furniture, paintings and porcelains) are on view, according to William Allman, the White House’s curator.
The General Services Administration’s collection—24,000 paintings, prints and sculptures, dating from the 1850s to the present, all of which were new when commissioned by the agency—is placed in federal buildings around the country. The collection of the Interior Department—which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs (more than 5½ million items in that collection alone), the National Parks Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and several other bureaus—is vast and is housed in national parks, museums and federal offices throughout the country.
Artifacts as Ambiance (Wall Street Journal)