Copper in the Arts

May 2011

Smithsonian's National Numismatic Collection Receives Sacagawea Donation

Sacagawea Sacagawea relief by Glenna Goodacre

Photograph courtesy of the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has recently acquired 17 items from sculptor Glenna Goodacre from her successful commission to design the Sacagawea dollar coin released in 2000. This donation preserves 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.

Goodacre, of Santa Fe, N.M., is a nationally acclaimed artist and sculptor with a career spanning 40 years. She has created hundreds of pieces, including the bronze Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington, D.C., and a portrait of former President Ronald Reagan, which is held at the Reagan Library in California.

"The items Goodacre donated show her love and dedication of 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 no known images of Sacagawea exist. Sacagawea (c. 1788 - 1812) was a Lemhi Shoshone woman who accompanied the Lewis and Clark expedition of 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.

"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," said Goodacre. "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."


The Smithsonian National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.

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