The story of America’s Collection: The Art and Architecture of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the U.S. Department of State began in May 2022, when Virginia Hart became the museum’s fifth Curator and Director. Her leadership ushered in a period of outreach and renewal for the august institution, and MRP was engaged to advise on the development of custom products related to the Diplomatic Reception Rooms’ collection. But having seen the richness of the holdings, we suggested an additional course and embarked on a once in a generation project for our client—a full retelling of the DRR’s history in a detailed scholarly catalogue introducing the collection and architecture to new audiences.

America’s Collection, Published September 2023
America’s Collection, Published September 2023.
Portrait of Frances Tucker Montresor, John Singleton Copley. Diplomatic Reception Rooms
Portrait of Frances Tucker Montresor, John Singleton Copley. Diplomatic Reception Rooms.
Diplomatic Reception Rooms - Chair
Chair, ca. 1750–60, Unidentified Makers. Diplomatic Reception Rooms.

The resulting volume explores the DRR’s extraordinary but little-known collection, a special suite of rooms tucked inside the State Department’s headquarters in the modern Harry S. Truman Building in Washington, D.C. Unexplored even by many seasoned museum goers, these rooms—42 meticulously designed and decorated state rooms that are gems of classical architecture—house a collection of more than 5,000 exceptional works and one of the finest assembled collections of American art in the world.

The first volume in 20 years, and only the third ever to explore the subject, America’s Collection offers the fullest telling to date of how the rooms came to be, their astounding architectural transformation, and the way the holdings reflect the country’s founding period and ideals. Featuring a foreword by former Secretary of State John Kerry and essays by many prominent curators and cultural writers, the volume explores 150 works as well as interior views never before seen by the public.

MRP was very pleased to produce this special project with Janice Yablonski-Hickey serving as the General Editor. Our team developed the concept for the book, oversaw its acquisition by the publisher, Rizzoli, secured the authors and other contributors, developed the content, advised on design and specifications, and provided marketing and publicity for the book for its release in September 2023. Carolyn Vaughan, of Carolyn Vaughan Books, was the Project Managing Editor and Thunder11 provided the book’s publicity.

The book has won two awards to date, and has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Bloomberg, the Chicago Tribune, ArtDaily, Boston Magazine, Antiques and the Arts Weekly, the Washingtonian, and The Decorative Arts Trust, among other outlets.

Project Details

  • Client: U.S. Department of State

  • Year: 2023

  • Partners:

    • Rizzoli Electa, Publisher
    • Sarah Gifford, Design
    • Carolyn Vaughan Books, Editor
    • Thunder11, Publicity
  • Awards:

    • New York City Big Book Award, Fine Arts
    • Best Art Book, American Book Fest
  • Press:

    • New York Times
    • Wall Steet Journal
    • CNN
    • Bloomberg
  • Specifications: Hardcover, 352 pages