In 1983, the Smithsonian American Art Museum began actively building its photography collection. That year, more than 1,500 photographs were transferred to the museum from the National Endowment for the Arts. Since then, the collection has grown to more than 9,000 works that span the history of the medium.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection of folk and self-taught art represents the powerful vision of America’s untrained and vernacular artists. SAAM is one of the only major museums to clearly advocate for a diverse populist and uniquely American voice within the context of what is traditionally considered great art.