In recent years, the museum has strengthened its commitment to contemporary art through acquisitions, commissions and exhibitions. The museum has acquired important works by Barbara Bosworth, Deborah Butterfield, Walton Ford, Frank Gohlke, John Gossage, Jenny Holzer, Robert Longo, Kerry James Marshall, Tim Rollins and K.O.S, Sean Scully, and Jean Shin, among others.
A particular collecting focus has been video and time-based art. The museum has assembled a serious collection of key artworks from the history of video art as well as works by new generation of artists on the cutting edge of media arts. Cory Arcangel, Jim Campbell, Peter Campus, Kota Ezawa, Svetlana and Igor Kopystiansky, Nam June Paik, Marina Zurkow, and many others are represented in the museum's permanent collection.
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Pictured top: Jenny Holzer, For SAAM, 2007, electronic LED array with white diodes, 336 x 48 in. (853.4 x 121.9 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment
Pictured bottom: Sean Scully, Maesta, 1983, oil, 96 x 120 in. (243.8 x 304.8 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment