Marise McDermott, president and CEO of the Witte Museum, would not confirm this information prior to Tuesday’s formal announcement.
The Witte on Feb. 1 sent a media advisory saying that “a one-of-a-kind, limited exhibition, happening this summer” will be announced Tuesday, with special guest speakers Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Col. Miguel Howe of the George W. Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative.
Witte Director of Communications Katye Brought said Monday that an exhibition is “coming to the Witte Museum this summer that is in partnership with the George W. Bush Presidential Center.”
A source with knowledge of the announcement confirmed that it will pertain to the Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors exhibition.
The exhibition is currently in Bush’s hometown of Midland, Texas, at the Museum of the Southwest, through March 25. Karmen Hendrix Bryant, interim executive director of the Museum of the Southwest, said that the exhibition will travel next to the Johnny Morris Wonders of Wildlife National Museum in Springfield, Missouri.
A source at the Museum of the Southwest also confirmed a 12-week run for the exhibition at each location, which would correspond to an appearance in San Antonio in mid-summer.
Portraits of Courage focuses on large-scale portraits of military veterans, all painted by the former president in recent years. A main feature of the exhibition is a 16-foot long, multi-panel mural that portrays the faces of a diverse array of veterans, numbering in the dozens, over a variegated, military-green background.
The paintings first appeared in 2017 in book form, with a volume of the same title, and includes veterans’ stories. A New York Times review of the book called Bush “an evocative and surprisingly adept artist.”
The exhibition at the Museum of the Southwest contains 66 portraits, plus the mural. From published reports, several portraits are of visibly wounded veterans, including a woman with a prosthetic leg dancing with Bush himself.
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As stated on its website, the mission of the George W. Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative is to help “post-9/11 veterans and their families” transition to civilian life, with help for employment and “overcoming the invisible wounds of war.”
Katie Ballard Kardell, associate of external affairs for the George W. Bush Presidential Center, confirmed that the traveling exhibition will include all of the paintings in the current show.