It opens Saturday, April 14.
Late Friday, Wonders of Wildlife announced that it is exhibiting a series of paintings by former President George W. Bush.
Titled “Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors,” the exhibit celebrates U. S. military veterans.
It opens Saturday, April 14.
The 43rd commander-in-chief, who took up portraiture as a hobby after completing his second presidential term, first began exhibiting paintings of veterans at his presidential center in Dallas last year, USA TODAY reported.
At the time, Bush told NBC News, “People ask me, ‘Do you miss being president?’ The answer is not really. But I miss saluting people who have volunteered to wear the uniform.”
Now, the George W. Bush Institute is loaning the paintings to Wonders of Wildlife for a limited engagement through July 5.
It is the first major display of the collection outside of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, Wonders of Wildlife said in a news release. Wonders of Wildlife is the only Midwestern stop for the exhibition, which will be shown at three other U. S. venues.
“Portraits of Courage” includes 66 full-color portraits and a four-panel mural of 98 service members and veterans, all of whom Bush came to know personally.
All of the portrait subjects served in the armed forces since the al-Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11,2001, Wonders of Wildlife said.
Access to “Portraits of Courage” is included with general admission to the Wildlife Galleries at Wonders of Wildlife.
Museum members may make unlimited visits to the exhibition through July 5 as part of their membership. Details can be found at wondersofwildlife.org .
Johnny Morris, founder of Wonders of Wildlife and Bass Pro Shops and a longtime advocate for veterans and military families, called the former president’s artistic celebration of the military a “noble effort.”
“We are incredibly honored to showcase this deeply moving exhibition that casts an important light on some of our nation’s greatest heroes and their sacrifices,” Morris said in the news release.
Morris said “Portraits of Courage” helps “remind all Americans about the human cost of defending liberty while inspiring all of us to do what we can to support veterans and their families.”
Each painting is accompanied by the story of the person portrayed, written by Bush.
In a bid to bridge between military and civilian communities, the exhibit also provides visitors with information and resources to support post-9/11 service members and their families, according to the news release.
Wonders of Wildlife is working with College of the Ozarks, Ozarks Technical Community College and the Springfield Regional Arts Council on various programs to raise awareness for veterans issues, the news release said.
The news release also said Morris made a personal donation to support the George W. Bush Institute and its Military Service Initiative, which works to ensure that post-9/11 veterans and their families make successful transitions to civilian life with a focus on gaining meaningful employment and overcoming the invisible wounds of war.
Bush and Morris share a friendship founded on their mutual love of fishing.
Bush and former President Jimmy Carter attended the grand reopening of Wonders of Wildlife in September.
Bush’s father, former President George H. W. Bush, participated via satellite.
The elder Bush and Carter were both named honorary chairmen of Wonders of Wildlife when it first opened in the early 2000s as the American National Fish and Wildlife Museum.