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Collection Highlights

The museum’s collection charts the nation’s growth from a young republic to an emerging world power. Landscapes extolling the nation’s geographic wonders from Niagara Falls to the Grand Canyon drove and documented westward expansion. Asher Durand’s Dover Plains, Dutchess County, New York presents an idyllic landscape where man and nature coexist.
Artists in the twentieth century chose two distinct ways to depict modernism and the excitement of progress—realism and abstraction. Both are well represented in the collection. The museum has the largest collection of New Deal art and murals in the country. Images of jazz and street life, farms and factories, workers and families captured a changing America
SAAM is home to one of the most significant collections of African American art in the world, boasting more than two thousand works by more than two hundred African American artists. Covering centuries of creative expression, the artworks explore themes that reflect the African American experience in paintings, sculpture, prints, textiles and photographs.
SAAM has more than 450 works by over one-hundred artists of Asian descent in its collections, including works by modern masters Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Chiua Obata, and Isamu Noguchi.
In recent years, the museum has strengthened its commitment to contemporary art through acquisitions, commissions, and exhibitions.
The museum’s collection of contemporary American craft is considered one of the finest in the United States.
The museum’s collection begins with works from the colonies of New Spain and New England.
The Film and Media Arts Initiative at the Smithsonian American Art Museum reflects a commitment to develop the museum’s film and media arts collections, research resources, and programs.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection of folk and self-taught art represents the powerful vision of America’s untrained and vernacular artists. Represented in the museum’s collection are pieces that draw on tradition and artworks that reveal a more personal vision.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Latino art collection represents a profound commitment to building a great national collection reflecting the rich contributions of Latinos to our country from the colonial period to the present.
America’s continuing love affair with the camera can be traced through the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection, which ranges from early daguerreotypes to contemporary digital works. In 1983, the museum began to seriously collect photography. That year, more than 1,800 photographs were transferred to the museum from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The museum’s American sculpture collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world.

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