Reasons to Celebrate Walt Whitman

Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.”

–Walt Whitman

Happy Birthday, Walt!

Walt Whitman193 years ago today, America’s greatest and most influential poet was born on Long Island, New York. VMFA is honoring Walt Whitman’s life and work in a special summer exhibition—Bold, Cautious, True: Walt Whitman and American Art of the Civil War Era—that opens in our Mellon focus galleries this Saturday. Timed to coincide with the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and Emancipation, this thought-provoking exhibition, which takes its title from Whitman’s poem “As Toilsome I Wander’d Virginia’s Wood,” showcases one of VMFA’s seminal works—Eastman Johnson’s A Ride for Liberty—The Fugitive Slaves, March 2, 1862—in addition to 29 paintings, sculpture, and rare books from noted public and private collections across the country.

On Sunday June 3 from 2 to 4 pm, please join us for a ‘soul-satisfying’ concert program—Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass—featuring oboist Yeon Jee Sohn and guitarist William Feasley in an afternoon of chamber music celebrating the legacy of Whitman. Come “hear America singing!”

On Thursday, June 7 the organizer of the exhibtion Kevin Sharp will examine the poetics of American painting, sculpture, and graphic arts during the turbulent 1860s.

More information and tickets for both programs are available at

Eastman Johnson, A Ride for Liberty -The Fugitive Slaves

Eastman Johnson, A Ride for Liberty -The Fugitive Slaves


— Sylvia Yount, Chief Curator and Cochrane Curator of American Art