The Art of War: Gifts of Peace
The CGSC Art and Gift Collection
he art and gift collection of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College traces its beginnings to 1943 at the height of World War II with a plaque from the Polish delegation attending the college. Gifts prior to that were not necessarily catalogued or maintained, however some gifts, such as a painted portrait of Confederate General Robert E. Lee donated in 1934 by the Daughters of the American Confederacy, still exist.
In the 1970s, CGSC classes began a tradition of giving gifts to the college upon graduation. That tradition has taken many forms, from stained glass windows currently displayed in the Lewis and Clark Center (the home of CGSC), to original works of art presented annually on a topic chosen by the class. In addition, many of the international military student officers from each class annually gift the college with tokens of appreciation representing their country. In addition, visiting dignitaries and interested donors have gifted the college with works of art. Examples of these gifts range from a presidential portrait collection to bronze statues commemorating the military’s role in the war in Afghanistan.
Today, the collection consists of more than 3,800 gifts of art objects and other items and grows each year. The collection provides a physical representation of the historical significance between the college and the nations it serves. However, the collection is in need of preservation to professional standards in order to be more widely shared and celebrated for its unique and historical significance.
The Art of War Initiative put forth by the CGSC Foundation, Inc., will preserve, promote, and protect the life and longevity of the over 3,800 items in the art and gift collection of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, as well as provide capital for the mission and goals of the Foundation in order to elevate the collection to the status of national treasure that it should be.
Note: The CGSC Foundation is a 501 (C)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit educational foundation. Contributions to the Foundation and its programs such as the Art of War Initiative will, in most instances, be tax-exempt.
The vision of the Art of War Initiative is to preserve, educate, celebrate and engage. Specifically, we will preserve by fully cataloguing the collection; educate with published and video projects; celebrate and engage by using objects from the collection in exhibits both within the college and the community; plan for the future with an endowment; and finally protect the collection by designing and reimagining the collection storage and display for the foreseeable future.
The Five Steps to Success
The Foundation anticipates that the total program will require five steps or phases in order to accomplish the mission. The five steps are:
This step is the most important and manpower intensive step in the program, from this step all other programs will proceed. The goal is to bring the collection to museum quality standardization through use of “PastPerfect Museum Software Version 5” with media upgrade. This software is in use throughout the United States and provides a means to record the collection in detail, make the collection accessible to the public through ease of sharing, and promote research.
A team of specialists will assess the item, review the information available, research the context and historical significance, photograph, and then input the information into the database. As part of this effort, museum level curators will evaluate the condition of the items and make recommendations for repair or restoration. This team will work under the direction of the Todd Weiner Gallery and each member will be a statutory volunteer for the U.S. Army under the rules set forth in Army Regulation 608-1. The Army will provide access to the collection with arrangements for government supervision as appropriate while the work is in progress.
This step concludes when the collection is completely recorded and the database is presented to the College for access through web-based services.
The purpose of this step is to continue to publicize the collection throughout the College as well as the community. Currently, the collection is only somewhat known within the military community and this step helps celebrate and inform the American public of the collection’s beauty and significance.
An experienced team of authors will take the work of the previous step to produce a hard-bound book showcasing the collection. This book will discuss the most important and notable pieces in the collection and will be produced in a “coffee table” format. The team will contract with a publisher and the books will be made available through a variety of means for sale to the public and will be gifted to the College for use as they deem appropriate.
In addition, the team will prepare a published “Catalogue Raisone” of the entire collection with all of the objects shown based on the database entries. This set of books will be hard bound with a U.S. flag wrapped spine cover pattern and will be published in limited edition for presentation to sponsors and the college.
Finally, this step will also include a video of the collection recording each step of the campaign suitable as a documentary video for presentation on public television and through other venues. The Todd Weiner Gallery will coordinate with the College leadership for the video production and public affairs release.
This step includes two distinct products. First, a document will be developed early in the timeline that re-imagines the current presentation of the collection throughout the CGSC campus that will serve as a roadmap for lighting, display, curation, and exhibition of the objects on campus. This document will recommend improvements that the government can take for the collection presentation throughout the CGSC campus.
The second product will be a series of curated exhibits of portions of the collection throughout the CGSC campus as well as throughout the community. These curated exhibits will provide professional display, professionally prepared didactics, and themes to educate the college and the public about the history of the college gift collection and especially the international military student programs. The CGSC Foundation will coordinate with the college leadership on the number and timing of on-campus exhibits.
For those exhibits displayed within the community, the CGSC Foundation will coordinate with the college for loan of the items and will ensure that all standards of security and protection are in place to ensure the collection is properly safeguarded and exhibited in accordance with government restrictions and desires.
This step establishes a permanent endowment managed by the Foundation to provide for continuation of the preserve, promote, present, and protect steps of the program.
Each year, the college receives approximately 100 new objects as gifts from the class, international military students, visiting dignitaries, and interested donors. Dividends from the endowment will be used to support a program to process and record in the database all new pieces added to the collection annually. This step will ensure that updates to the software are integrated and the collection is maintained accurately.
Depending on the success of the capital campaign and therefore the size of the endowment, this program may also provide for the continuation of curated exhibits throughout the college campus and in the community. This program will ensure the health and promotion of the collection for the future.
75th anniversary of the international gift giving tradition
The projects in this final step will be determined by the success of the campaign. The vision for this step is to provide the resources to professionally store the important objects in order to give future generations the opportunity to view, consider, and admire them. This step will include proffering to the government to refurbish the collection storage facility with professional storage materials and equipment as well as proper climate control to prolong the life of the collection. The CGSC Foundation will assess the ability to provide the physical capability to the college at the close of the capital campaign and will work with the college to determine what can be proffered as a gift to the government.