Traveling Exhibition Program

Bring the Smithsonian American Art Museum to your institution! Book one of our preeminent touring exhibitions today and share our collection with your community.  

For 70 years, SAAM has been dedicated to making its permanent collection and special exhibitions available across the United States through our traveling exhibition program. This program is designed to offer institutions ready access to showcase new scholarship and collaborate with SAAM’s expert team. In turn, these traveling exhibitions allow us to expand our audience and to ensure that more Americans enjoy the most significant and inclusive collection of American art in the world.  

Be the first to know what exhibitions SAAM is offering for tour by signing up for our touring exhibitions email list.

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Ready to bring a SAAM exhibition to your institution? For more information about booking traveling exhibitions, pricing, checklists, and spacing requirements please contact Jennifer Lee, senior assistant registrar at AmericanArtTravel@si.edu, or call (202) 633-8478.  

General Requirements for Exhibitors

  • The exhibitor must be a nonprofit institution, essentially educational and aesthetic in purpose, that collects works of art and exhibits them to the public.  
  • The exhibitor must have available professional staff trained in handling artwork. 
  • The exhibitor must meet climate and security requirements and must submit an American Association of Museums’ standard facilities report. 

SCHEDULING AND PARTICIPATION FEES

  • Exhibitions are usually scheduled for twelve-week periods, allowing a few weeks between venues for packing and shipping.  
  • Participation fees vary from exhibition to exhibition and include costs of preparing the works for travel, packing, crating, transportation (including couriers if necessary), and insurance under the museum's policy.
  • For information about current fees, please contact Jennifer Lee, Senior Assistant Registrar at AmericanArtTravel@si.edu or call (202) 633-8478.  

AVAILABLE EXHIBITION MATERIALS AND SERVICES

  • Published catalogues, brochures, and additional materials may be available.  
  • Three working copies of the catalogue will be provided free of charge, with additional copies available to be ordered at a discount. 
  • Posters, notecards, and other items may be available at a discount for resale in the exhibitor’s shop. Visit our online shop for examples of our products. 
  • A sample press release may be sent to each exhibitor, along with images that can be used for publicity.  
  • Exhibition labels and intro panel text are provided electronically in Microsoft Word format. 
  • Standards-based educational resources for grades K-12 may be available online and adaptable to traveling exhibitions and with support from the Education Department. Including artist interviews, lesson plans, and interactive online activities. Ask about real-time videoconference programs for schools and adults. Curators may be available to lecture on request. 

Sign Up for Our Traveling Exhibitions Newsletter

A woman stands in front of a red wall showing 7 graphic artworks

Museum professionals are encouraged to sign up for our regularly circulating email newsletter. Be the first to know about what exhibitions are available for booking and learn more about ways to bring SAAM artworks to your institution.

EXHIBITIONS AVAILABLE TO BOOK NOW

Media - 1978.40.3 - SAAM-1978.40.3_2 - 137737

Composing Color: Paintings by Alma Thomas 

Alma Thomas is a singular figure in the story of twentieth-century American art. Her vibrant, rhythmic art transcended established genres, incorporating elements of gestural abstraction and color field painting. This exhibition provides an intimate view of Alma Thomas’ evolving artistic practices during her most prolific period from 1959 to her death in 1978. Recent research reveals how she was continually innovative, adapting to personal health challenges later in her life.   

This exhibition features 19 paintings, most of which were gifts of the artist to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. 

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Current Tour Schedule 

  • Smithsonian American Art Museum: October 6, 2023 – April 4, 2024 
  • On Hold: Summer 2024 
  • On Hold: Fall 2024 
  • Available: Winter 2025 
  • Available: Spring 2025
  • Available: Summer 2025
  • Available: Fall 2025

 

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Fighters for Freedom: William H. Johnson Picturing Justice

William H. Johnson painted his Fighters for Freedom series in the mid-1940s as a tribute to African American activists, scientists, teachers, and performers as well as international heads of state working to bring peace to the world. In Fighters for Freedom, Johnson reminds us that individual achievement and commitment to social justice are at the heart of of the American story.

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Current Tour Schedule 

  • Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina: January 21, 2022 – August 7, 2022
  • Albany Museum of Art in Albany, Georgia: September 1, 2022 – December 10, 2022
  • Oklahoma City Museum of Art in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: February 8, 2023 – May 14, 2023
  • The Rockwell Museum in Corning, New York: June 2, 2023 – September 5, 2023
  • Wichita Art Museum in Wichita, Kansas: October 7, 2023 – January 14, 2024
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC: March 8, 2024 – September 8, 2024
  • Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami, Florida: September 28, 2024 – January 25, 2025
     

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This is an image of a flower coming out of a tree trunk

Ginny Ruffner: Reforestation of the Imagination 

Ginny Ruffner is an artist best known for her elegant sculptures and mastery of glass techniques. Some of her most recent work combines traditional glass sculpture with Augmented Reality (AR) technology to create an interactive viewer experience. Visitors to the exhibition are encouraged to use a downloadable app that superimposes digital information over seemingly barren sculptures, creating two distinct realities to explore. 

This installation consists of six island bases, each featuring colorless glass sculptures of tree stumps with painted rings that trigger AR renderings of flora and fauna. 

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Current Tour Schedule 

  • Kalamazoo Institute of Arts: September 18, 2021 – December 5, 2021 
  • On Hold: Spring 2023 
  • On Hold: Spring 2024
  • Available for several additional venues 

 

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Musical Thinking: New Video Art and Sonic Strategies

Musical Thinking explores the powerful resonances between recent video art and the popular art of music. The exhibition focuses on video art that employs the strategies of musical creation—like scores, improvisation and interpretation—as well as its styles, structures, and lyrics to speak to the personal, as well as shared, aspects of American life.

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Radical Histories: Chicanx Prints from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Since the 1960s, Chicanx artists have used the graphic medium to disseminate declarations of political advocacy, cross-cultural solidarity, and historical reflections to rethink the past. Radical Histories concentrates on Chicanx artists’ efforts to contest and dismantle American history, creating graphic counter-histories from ancient to contemporary. There is a persistent unlearning that the featured works request, openly defying notions of American exceptionalism, heteronormativity, whiteness, and borders.

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A yellow vase with stylized horses and deer in red

Sharing Honors and Burdens: Renwick Invitational 2023

Together, the six Native artists included in the exhibition present a fresh and nuanced vision of Native American art. Featuring artists Joe Feddersen (Arrow Lakes/Okanagan), Lily Hope (Tlingit), Ursala Hudson (Tlingit), Erica Lord (Athabaskan/Iñupiat), Geo Neptune (Passamaquoddy), and Maggie Thompson (Fond du Lac Ojibwe). These artists highlight principles of respect, reciprocity, and responsibility through their work that addresses themes of environmentalism, displacement, and cultural connectedness. Their work expresses the honors and burdens that Native artists balance as they carry forward their cultural traditions.

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