When Congress formally welcomed the newly installed Chief Executive at its Inaugural Luncheon on January 20, 2009, President Barack Obama took his seat before Thomas Hill's 1865 painting, View of the Yosemite Valley
, on loan from the New-York Historical Society.
The theme of the 2009 Inaugural Luncheon was "A Birth of New Freedom," celebrating the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, the ideals of reuniting a nation and Westward Expansion that were exemplified during Lincoln's presidency. The painting reflects the majestic landscape of the American West and the dawn of a new era. In 1864, Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant, which set aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias as a public reserve.
The New-York Historical Society was proud to play a role in the President's inauguration and the beginning of a new chapter in the Nation's history.