A bold expression of a fledgling republic’s aspirations and bravado, the American bald eagle has been designed, drawn, illustrated, stamped, engraved, painted, sculpted, carved, photographed, and etched by thousands of artists and artisans since 1782, when it first appeared as the central figure of the Great Seal of the United States of America. The widely varied use of the bald eagle tells the story of our nation and its values and customs. The eagle remains the nation’s single most iconic living symbol and uniquely portrays our collective experience as Americans.
The remarkable Preston Cook Collection, which was recently gifted to the National Eagle Center, contains over 25,000 eagle-related items—from the everyday to the rare—that reflect American life, art and culture from the American Revolution to the present. Collection highlights include original paintings and prints by renowned artists from John James Audubon to Andy Warhol, a military commissioning document signed by President Abraham Lincoln, and thousands of other rare objects dating from the 18th century to today.
The National Eagle Center looks forward to curating the Preston Cook Collection and sharing it with the public in a way that will inspire visitors to learn and appreciate the important role eagles have played in American history, art, literature, commerce, and culture. The vast encyclopedic collection will add fascinating depth and breadth to the National Eagle Center mission and greatly enhance the future visitor experience.