Due to rising regional and national cases related to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo, will temporarily close to the public starting Monday, Nov. 23. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time.
Ben Shahn's 1956 drawing is one of a series commissioned by Edward R. Murrow and CBS producer Fred Friendly for a documentary on the legendary trumpeter, singer, and bandleader Louis Armstrong. Shahn had recently represented the United States at the Venice Biennale and been asked to give a prestigious series of lectures at Harvard. Armstrong was hitting even greater peaks of international renown. Performing in Europe in 1956, Armstrong and his band were sent by CBS on a historic side trip to Africa. In May Armstrong received worldwide attention performing for a huge crowd in Accra, Ghana. The African visit was an exhilarating experience for Armstrong, who felt especially connected to the Ghanaian people. Murrow's documentary was first edited for a television show and then released by United Artists as the documentary film Satchmo the Great (1957).