Venue Details

5 Star Starred
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Drive, SW Washington, DC 20024
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Step into any pine–paneled den in mid-50s America and you were likely to see a piece of paint-by-number artwork. After more than a half a century, those New England lighthouses and pictures of Chinese maidens and matadors are seen as more than just retro décor. Join curator William L. Bird, Jr. for an entertaining stroll though a virtual gallery of Craft Master classics to explore how a kitschy hobby craze colorfully planted itself at the intersection of elite and popular cultures, savvy marketing, and postwar middle-class cultural aspirations. 

Bird acknowledges that the hugely popular paint-by-number creations were never really art, but “by doing what art was not supposed to be, one could learn what it was.”

Begin the evening by sipping a glass of wine and trying your hand at a paint-by-number masterpiece (beret and smock not included).

Bird is a curator at the American History Museum. He assembled that museum’s exhibition Paint by Number: Accounting for Taste in 1950s America, and wrote the companion book Paint by Number: The How-to Craze that Swept the Nation (Princeton Architectural Press). 

About the Ticket Supplier: Smithsonian Associates

Smithsonian Associates offers unparalleled access to the Smithsonian’s world of knowledge through innovative, engaging programming that promotes learning, enrichment, and creativity for people of all ages.

The largest museum-based educational program in the world, Smithsonian Associates annually offers more than 750 seminars, performances, lectures, studio art classes, and local and regional study tours. Performances at Discovery Theater and more than 80 educationally focused summer camps are among the programs that fosters the joys of learning for young people and their families.