Smithsonian acquires Goodacre donation

Sculptor gives models, plasters to NNC
Published : 04/22/11
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The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History recently acquired 17 items from Santa Fe, N.M., sculptor Glenna Goodacre from her preliminary work to the finished design for the Sacagawea dollar coin released in 2000.

The donation preserves items that demonstrate the creative and technical challenges of such a design and represents an important part of American history. The materials include fired clay coins, bronze sculptures, plaster studies and pencil-drawing proofs up to the first release of the coin in a presentation box, which will be housed in the museum’s National Numismatic Collection.

“The items Goodacre donated show her love and dedication [toward] the coin from concept to completion,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. “She artfully portrayed a young American Indian guide and mother whose amazing adventure still lives in the hearts, minds and imagination of the American people today.”

The artist faced many challenges surrounding the design of the coin, such as that no known images of Sacagawea exist. Sacagawea (circa 1788 to 1812) was a Lemhi Shoshone woman who accompanied the Lewis and Clark expedition through the western United States acting as their interpreter and guide.

Goodacre used Shoshone college student Randy’L Teton as a model and dressed her in an authentic, period, beaded leather dress. Logistical issues included the project specifications, that the image was not supposed to touch the coin’s border inscription yet the central image had to be large enough to be clearly visible.

“It was a great honor for me to sculpt my own design for the Sacagawea Dollar, to work with the wonderful U.S. Mint engravers and staff who took my drawings and studies all the way through to an actual minted coin,” Goodacre said. “It was a unique experience for a sculptor like me, and the high point of my long career as an artist. The Smithsonian is the perfect home for my preliminary coin material, and I’m proud to have my work in the National Numismatic Collection.”

Goodacre experimented with many designs for the coin — head studies, standard profile and a standing figure of Sacagawea pointing the way for the expedition. She also wanted to feature images of Sacagawea with her infant son, who accompanied her on the expedition, and express Sacagawea’s ability to communicate with the tribes the group met as it made its way through unknown territories.

The final obverse design shows a head and shoulder view of Sacagawea with her infant son sleeping peacefully on her back.

The U.S. Mint also asked Goodacre to sculpture the bas-relief for the coin herself, which makes her one of only a handful of private-sector artists in history who have sculptured an American coin.

The items donated are:

➤ One Terra Cotta Coin Study (second relief attempt for the coin), fired clay, edition of 2,000, signed “©G. Goodacre 1999,” 7.25-inch diameter, autographed on obverse.

➤ One Dollar Coin Design (final relief attempt), bronze, edition of 200, signed “©2000 A.P. [artist proof] GG,” 8-inch diameter.

➤ One Dollar Coin Design, brass-finish bronze, signed and numbered, “71 of 200 G Goodacre 2000 ©,” 8-inch diameter.

➤ One Sacagawea Study (square, first relief attempt), polished bronze relief, sold out edition, signed “G. Goodacre 1998 A.P.”

➤ One bronze sculpture, limited edition of 300, titled The Offering. 7.5 inches high, with an Uncirculated 2000-P Sacagawea dollar.

➤ One plaster coin study, “liberty 2000 in god we trust” portrait of Sacagawea (right profile), 8-inch diameter, one of a kind.

➤ One plaster coin study, “liberty 2000 in god we trust” portrait of Sacagawea and child, 8-inch diameter.

➤ One plaster coin study, “liberty 2000 in god we trust” portrait of Sacagawea and child, 8-inch diameter.

➤ One plaster coin study, “liberty 2000 in god we trust” portrait of Sacagawea (left profile), 8-inch diameter

➤ Four signed pencil drawings “Glenna Goodacre 1998”:

A. Right-facing profile with baby, 14- by 11-inch paper, 8-inch diameter image.

B. Sacagawea Pointing (Sacagawea the guide), 14- by 11-inch paper, 8-inch diameter image.

C. Flying Eagle Obverse Design, 14- by 11-inch paper, 8-inch diameter image.

D. From a sketchbook illustrating the artist’s process, 17 inches by 13.5 inches.

Coin World did not have details on whether any of the donated materials would be placed on public display. ■

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