Let’s face it — Saturday, Feb. 20 will be a big day for museum lovers in the Quad-Cities, as two long-time Davenport institutions open new exhibits.

The Putnam will open an original exhibit, “Faces of the Past,” on Feb. 20.

A new original exhibit at the Putnam (1717 W. 12th St.), “Faces of the Past,”  explores portraiture around the world and across time as a reflection of self-identity, popular culture, mythology, and ritual.

The exhibit will be included with general admission and remain open through mid-2021 at the Putnam, a Smithsonian Affiliate museum.

Throughout the world, people see themselves in different ways. Cultures demonstrate how they view themselves through artwork, according to the Putnam. Whether depicted solely with human features, a blend of human and animal characteristics or something completely supernatural, the masks, wood carvings and pottery in the exhibit characterize a great deal about the cultures that made them.’

At the Putnam, visitors can expect to see faces representing 20 countries and 35 cultures, including a Pre-Columbian face jug, Japanese Noh and Kyogen theater masks, dance masks from Africa and more. Located in Kornder Hall, the exhibit will be included with general admission and remain open through mid-2021.

Rachael Mullins is president/CEO of the Putnam Museum & Science Center.

“The Putnam believes in strong community collaboration, and we’re proud to be partnering with the Figge Art Museum on their upcoming For America exhibit from the National Academy of Design,” Putnam

“For America” features this John Singer Sargent, Self-Portrait, 1892, Oil on canvas, 21 x 17 in., National Academy of Design, New York, Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

President/CEO Rachael Mullins said Tuesday.

“When we learned of the portraiture by American Masters which will be featured, we thought it would be a great opportunity to compare and contrast portraits from cultures around the world. We hope visitors will get a chance to see both exhibits,” she said.

According to Putnam.org, the Putnam believes in strong community collaboration and is proud to be partnering with the Figge Art Museum on their For America exhibit from the National Academy of Design.

Thanks to the Major Exhibitions Endowment started by individuals, families, businesses, and organizations across the Quad-Cities community, the Figge (225 W. 2nd St., Davenport) will open a new major, traveling exhibition, For America: 200 Years of Painting from the National Academy of Design.

Organized by the American Federation of Arts and the National Academy of Design in New York, the exhibition is making stops at renowned museums across the U.S., including the Figge. It will first open Saturday and Sunday for members only, then the general public through May 16, 2021.

An Egyptian wooden mummy case that’s part of the new Putnam exhibit.

Presenting nearly 100 artworks spanning over 200 years from 1809 to 2013, For America features masterpieces by revered American artists such as William Merritt Chase, John Singer Sargent, Cecilia Beaux, Charles White, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and many others.

The exhibition presents a unique history of American art as seen through the lens of artists. Exploring how these individuals have represented themselves and their country over time, the exhibition is a striking portrait of broadening diversity throughout the country’s history, according to the Figge.

“This is an incredible exhibition that explores our commonalities as well as our differences,” said Michelle Hargrave, the museum’s executive director and CEO. “It’s also an exceptional opportunity for dialogue and connection about what we all have in common: our country.”

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During this moment of social distancing, visiting the Figge offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sprawling across three floors and in adherence with the museum’s strict safety precautions that include capacity limits, visitors have the chance to view the exhibition without the

An Incan effigy jar is part of the new Putnam exhibit

hassle of crowds.

This rare, VIP-like experience is accessible to all who walk through the museum’s doors — and has the added benefit of being extraordinarily safe, the museum said Tuesday.

“There’s truly no better time to visit the Figge,” said Hargrave. “We’re so fortunate to have a facility with ample space that allows our visitors to safely view these masterworks.”

For America’s opening in 2021 is timely, as the journey through the exhibition reflects significant cultural shifts in America that we continue to experience as a nation, the Figge release said.

Michelle Hargrave is executive director and CEO of the Figge Art Museum.

Featuring many artist portraits, some side-by-side with paintings by those very artists, For America distills themes of self-reflection and self-awareness. A unique and thought-provoking opportunity to view America through the eyes of others, the exhibition urges viewers to build a deeper understanding of our shared histories and the rich complexities of what it means to be American, the museum release said.

The exhibition highlights shifts in figurative painting over the course of the last two centuries, revealing how individual artists balance subjectivity and objectivity. This framework offers

“For America” includes this Andrew Wyeth, Self-Portrait, 1945, Egg tempera on gesso panel, 25 x 30 in., National Academy of Design, New York, Photo Credit: Neighboring States, copyright 2018 Andrew Wyeth/Artists Rights Society, New York, Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

viewers an intimate look into the minds of the artists while exploring a question that human beings have long wrestled with: how do we perceive ourselves and the world in which we live?

“This is an unprecedented look at the history of American painting — written by its makers,” said Hargrave. “We’ve never seen anything like this before, and we’re honored to be hosting such an extraordinary exhibition at the Figge.

“At a time when Americans are reflecting on all that unites us, this exhibition offers a glimpse into the lessons of the past that we can carry into the future with greater perspective,” she said.

For America is organized into five sections, each reflecting continuing shifts in society, culture, and the state of art during the 19th and 20th centuries. The works on display encourage viewers to explore the joys and hardships of American life through diverse artistic perspectives — ranging from Paul Sample’s painting of the unemployed during The Great Depression, to the expressively painted Snake Dance by Native American artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith.

At its heart, For America urges viewers to see and appreciate the world through the eyes of others — in true American spirit — particularly as diversity has increased among the National Academy’s body of artist and architect

“For America” features this Robert Frederick Blum, Two Idlers, 1888-89, Oil on canvas, 29 X 40 in., National Academy of Design, New York, Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

Academicians.

“Expressing the message that despite our differences, we’re all Americans, the exhibition is an effective display of unity that proves the healing power of art,” the Figge said.

The first “For America” companion event will be Thursday, Feb. 25 at 5 p.m., on Zoom, where you can hear recently retired Chief Curator Emerita Brandon Brame Fortune of the National Portrait Gallery, who will explore the role of portraiture through history.

The Putnam “Faces of the Past” admission is included in the price of general admission — $9 for adults, $8 for youth (ages 3-18), seniors, college students and military. Through the Putnam’s new “Museums for All” program, admission is $1 per person for households (up to 2 adults and 3 children) with the presentation of an EBT card. Admission is free for members.

For more information, visit putnam.org/Exhibits/Featured/Faces-of-the-Past. For groups, or to plan your visit, call 563-324-1933.

At the Figge, tickets are on sale at $10 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for children ages 4-12. Reservations are highly encouraged and can be made at www.figgeartmuseum.org.

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Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.