Collection Highlights

  • 19th Century

    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.
  • 20th Century

    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
  • Art by African Americans

    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.
  • Art by Asian Americans

    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.
  • Contemporary

    In recent years, the museum has strengthened its commitment to contemporary art through acquisitions, commissions, and exhibitions.
  • Contemporary Craft and Decorative Arts

    The museum’s collection of contemporary American craft is considered one of the finest in the United States.
  • Early America

    The museum’s collection begins with works from the colonies of New Spain and New England.
  • Film and Media Arts

    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.
  • Folk and Self-Taught Art

    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.
  • Latino Art

    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.
  • Photography

    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.
  • Sculpture

    The museum’s American sculpture collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world.
  • Works on Paper

    Graphic arts comprise a large part of the museum’s collection, which reveals the central importance of works on paper for American artists, both as studies for creations in other media and as finished works of art.