By AUDREY FISCHER
Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States has won first prize in the 18th annual Museum Publications Design Competition sponsored by the American Association of Museums.
Winning entries were displayed at the American Association of Museums' Annual meeting, May 10-14, in Los Angeles, and will be featured in the July-August 1998 issue of AAM's national magazine, Museum News, with a circulation of 14,000.
"The United States continues to be the hope of liberty throughout the world," writes Dr. Billington in the book's preface. "Eyes of the Nation shows how this has come to pass."
The competition, which acknowledges excellence in the graphic design of museum publications in various formats, is the only national, juried event involving publications produced by museums of all kinds and sizes. Eyes of the Nation won first prize for books produced in institutions with annual operating budgets exceeding $500,000.
Another Library publication, The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention, received honorable mention in the same category. The Eames publication, based on a Library traveling exhibition that will be on view at the Library next spring, also received a distinguished achievement award from the American Institute of Architects and was a main selection of the Architects and Designs Book Service.
Other Library publications have received design awards in recent years from Washington Book Publishers. They include Many Nations: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Indian and Alaska Native Peoples of the United States, Heart of the Circle: Photographs by Edward S. Curtis of Native American Women, Library of Congress Geography and Maps: An Illustrated Guide, and Dresden: Treasures from the Saxon State Library. Dresden, the companion catalog to the popular exhibition held at the Library from April 11 through July 13, 1996, was also included in the American Institute for Graphic Arts' "50 Excellence Design Show."
Published last fall by Alfred A. Knopf in association with the Library of Congress, Eyes of the Nation includes more than 500 full-color illustrations chronicling America from the first encounter with Europeans, through the Colonial period and the founding of the nation, to Western expansion and industrialization, up to the present. Picture researcher Vincent Virga and Library curators co-authored the publication that includes historical commentary by Alan Brinkley.
Images such as a wanted poster for John Wilkes Booth and a naval dispatch announcing the air raid on Pearl Harbor are interspersed with examples of popular culture such as comic strips. Renowned American artists such as John James Audubon, Mathew Brady, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer and Dorothea Lange are represented.
Detailed captions accompany the images, and four major themes of the American experience are explored: the garden, the river, the city and the people.
"To most of America, Eyes of the Nation will be a revelation," writes Mr. Virga. "It will open the nation's eyes to the treasures held in trust that they, the American people, own in the Library of Congress, and the enchanting story of a great experiment that became America."
A selection of the Book of the Month Club and the History Book Club, this handsome 416-page publication costs $75 and is available in stores nationwide and in the Library of Congress Sales Shop.
Included with the book is a bonus offer to purchase a CD-ROM for $19.95 that contains not only the book, but also further historical information, specially created multimedia exhibitions by Library of Congress curators and a detailed overview of related online collections.
Ms. Fischer is a part-time writer in the Public Affairs Office.