Art by Asian Americans

Media - 1991.171 - SAAM-1991.171_1 - 11314
Roger Shimomura, Diary: December 12, 1941, 1980, acrylic on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum


The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection contains a remarkable number of works by artists of Asian descent that speak to the continuous exchange between East and West. Highlights from the collection include works by modern masters Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Isamu Noguchi, Chiura Obata, and Nam June Paik. Contemporary artists in the collection include Kota Ezawa, Yayoi Kusama, Maya Lin, Roger Shimomura, Jean Shin, Do Ho Suh, Julia Kwon, and Masami Teraoka, among others. SAAM’s contemporary craft collection, featured at the Renwick Gallery, includes work by Toshiko Takaezu, Akio Takamori, George Nakashima, Cliff Lee, and Steven Young Lee.

In 2009, the museum acquired the complete estate archive of visionary artist Nam June Paik, which forms the core of the Nam June Paik Archive. The Archive, an invaluable resource to scholars and researchers, consists of a blend of traditional paper holdings (letters, writings, ephemera) and objects (studio effects, recordings, vintage electronics and other source materials). Each aspect of the collection gains strength from the other, and together they present a fascinating picture of the artist’s life, work and creative process. The first exhibition to draw on the resources of the Nam June Paik Archive was Nam June Paik: Global Visionary in 2012.


In 2019, SAAM presented Tiffany Chung: Vietnam, Past Is Prologue. Chung talks about how her work probes the legacies of the Vietnam War and its aftermath through maps, videos, and paintings that highlight the voices and stories of former Vietnamese refugees.

Selected Artworks