The National Quilt Museum Sculptures – “On The Trail Of Discovery”

Sue Henry Photography 2008. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission.

Texture credit – Liek

The following information is taken from The Museum of the American Quilter Society – Paducah, KY

The Museum of the American Quilter’s Society is proud to bring, On the Trail of Discovery, five life size bronze sculptures celebrating the Lewis & Clark Expedition, to historic downtown Paducah. The statues are donated by Bill and Meredith Schroeder, founders of the Museum. The Lewis & Clark Expedition statues provide exciting outdoor art, night and day, for downtown Paducah, while the quilt “Mapmakers,” by Cassandra Williams, a quilt made in celebration of the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Expedition is featured as part of the permanent collection inside the Museum.

The sculptures are a permanent addition to the front lawn of the Museum and link the Museum to the history of Paducah and to Paducah’s historic riverfront. On the Trail of Discovery has the following life size figures:

Meriwether Lewis, Co-Captain on the Lewis & Clark Expedition. He is shown in military uniform like the one he wore on the expedition.
Seaman, Lewis’ Newfoundland dog, who traveled the entire journey
William Clark, Co-Captain of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Clark was the mapmaker of the expedition and, like Lewis, was a military man, but was also a frontiersman, and is shown in the casual frontier clothing worn much of the time on the expedition.
A Native American man
A Native American child

According to the sculptor, George Lundeen, who designed these figures, the Native Americans shown here represent all Native Americans who helped Lewis and Clark during their journey. He purposely placed few decorations or designs on their clothing because he did not want to identify them with any particular Native American group. The man wears a “peace medal” with the likeness on it of President Thomas Jefferson. Peace medals were presented by the Co-Captains to the Native American chiefs they met along the way. If you look carefully, you will also find a “coin” similar to the Sacagawea dollar. The Sacagawea dollar was not created until 2000, but the image provides a reminder that Sacagawea, a Native American woman, traveled from Montana to the Pacific Ocean and back with the Expedition assisting the expedition in many ways. The child holds an American flag similar to ones that would have been carried by the expedition.

The bronze sculptures were designed by George Lundeen, a sculptor who was born in Holdredge, Nebraska, and now lives and works in Loveland, Colorado. Lundeen went to Florence, Italy, for a year on a Fulbright-Hays Scholarship where he was inspired by the work of master sculptors there to become a professional sculptor. Today, Lundeen is a nationally known sculptor of realistic figures. He has achieved the status of full Academician of the National Academy of Design in New York, the highest professional recognition bestowed on visual arts in America. George Lundeen’s lifesize bronze statues can be seen in collections and locations around the world including the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC. Lundeen is quoted on the Museum of Nebraska Art website, saying of his sculptures, “As someone views and touches a piece of my work, it is my sincere hope that they will look past that hard surface of bronze to find the life which I try so much to capture within.”
[Information taken from website.]

Lundeen’s design was reproduced in bronze in Loveland, Colorado, at Deane Knox’s Knox Galleries the nation’s premier monumental bronze sculpture gallery. [Additional information about Knox Galleries found at their website at]

In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson gained the approval of Congress to create an expedition to explore the land west of the 1802 border of the United States all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The mission of the expedition was:
·To look for a “northwest passage” -a water route from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean
·To make an accurate map of the area they traveled
·To learn as much as possible about everything in the area west of our border, including the animals, plants, minerals, climate, etc.
·To make friends with, and learn about, any native people they met along the way, to let them know the United States wanted to trade with them and “be neighborly, friendly, and useful” to them

Members of the expedition were also to keep journals, collect samples, and document everything new they saw along the way. Meriwether Lewis was appointed by President Jefferson to lead the expedition and Lewis selected William Clark as co-captain of the expedition. Preparations began in 1803 with planning, gathering of information, purchasing boats, equipment, food, and other supplies, and selecting men for this trip into the largely unknown northwestern part of the North American continent. Meriwether Lewis brought materials by boat down the Ohio River to what is now the Clarksville, Indiana and Louisville area of Kentucky, where he joined with William Clark and added more men and materials. They continued on the Ohio River, passing what is now Paducah about November 10, 1803. At that time there were no people living in the area that is now Paducah; they arrived at Fort Massac on November 11, 1803, selected additional men and continued to St. Louis where they spent the winter. At least nine of the men who made the trip were from Kentucky or had Kentucky connections. During 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, making more of the land they would be exploring part of the United States. The trip took even longer than they anticipated. They did not find a water route to the Pacific Ocean. They had to leave boats behind and cross the Bitterroot Mountains on horse and foot. In mid November 1805, they finally reached the Pacific Ocean. They built a fort, spent the winter near the ocean and began the return journey in March 1806. They arrived back in St. Louis on September 23, 1806. On the return trip they did not pass Paducah on their route back.

Although they did not find a northwest passage by water to the Pacific Ocean, they did record information about vast numbers of new animals, plants, native peoples, rivers, and mountains unknown to the scholars in the east. William Clark made an accurate map of the territory they covered. They befriended and learned much about the Native Americans living in the northwest and were aided by them in many ways that helped make the journey a success. The expedition only lost one man and that was to an illness, probably appendicitis. The journals, scientific documentation and specimens, and the accurate map of the territory provided significant new knowledge to eastern scholars.

Born in Virginia in 1770 (before the American Revolution), William Clark had 5 older brothers who fought for American Independence, including two who died in the process, and George Rogers Clark whose service to the country resulted in his being given the land on which Paducah exists. After the death of George Rogers Clark, William purchased the land for $5. In 1827 he drew the plat map laying out the city of Paducah and named the city after a tribe of friendly Native Americans he had met. The original plat drawn by William Clark is in the Market House Museum. William Clark founded the city, drew the plat map and gave the city its name. Even though William Clark had many accomplishments in his life of service to his country, being Co-captain of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is probably his greatest claim to fame. It is appropriate that he is honored in the midst of historic downtown Paducah by a bronze statue depicting him in his role as Co-captain, On the Trail of Discovery.

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6 Responses to The National Quilt Museum Sculptures – “On The Trail Of Discovery”

  1. JulieM says:

    Sue, your photos of the sculptures are wonderful. Nice that they are life sized and placed so that you can photograph them from eye-level. Your texture application is FANTASTIC! Thanks for providing the background information too…

  2. JRP says:

    Wow Sue, the texture has made these photos absoulte magic!! I just can’t imagine liking them as much without texture! AWESOME!

  3. Oscar says:

    This makes your photos look like paintings, really interesting effect. Nice images. 🙂

  4. Beau Dodson says:

    Okay Sue…fess up. You were a photographer in a former life???? WOW – these photographs are just amazing. Again, stunning. You are mastering the art.

  5. julielawsonphotography says:

    Holy Moly, Sue! These photographs with the textures are amazing!!! Great use of them. They took my breath away, great job!

  6. Barbaranne says:

    Sue, your photos with background textures have taken the sculptures one step beyond extraordinary….is there a word for that?? How can that be possible?? It is possible, of course, because of your artistry.

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