From the Director: Looking Forward at SAAM

A photograph of a woman standing in front of a black sculpture.

 SAAM's Director, Stephanie Stebich, in front of Louise Nevelson's Sky Cathedral. Photo by Libby Weiler.

Our visitors bring the museums to life. Whether it’s conversations in the galleries, applause during a performance, or a child's joyful laugh during a family program, these sounds enliven our spaces, filling galleries with the audible sign of people connecting with art. We are looking forward to a year of art, exhibitions, and programs full of those happy sounds once more.

Kicking off those plans is the ambitious American Women’s History Initiative, a five-year Smithsonian campaign to illuminate women’s pivotal roles in this history of our Nation, with three goals in mind:

  • amplify women’s voices
  • reach new audiences
  • empower future generations

This initiative brings together the entire Smithsonian to present innovative exhibitions, publications, public programs, and a digital strategy, onsite and online. At SAAM we’re amplifying the stories of women artists you may not know (but definitely should!) and those who have already entered the art historical canon, such as Louise Nevelson, whose work is depicted above.

One artist you’ll encounter this spring is Tiffany Chung. Her work examines ideas of migration, conflict, and shifting geographies in Tiffany Chung: Vietnam, Past Is Prologue. Her video work will also be featured in our Women Directors Film Festival at the end of March alongside many other female visionaries we think you’ll enjoy getting to know. The exhibition will be on view concurrently with Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975, which explores reactions to the Vietnam War by artists, many of whom are women, including Martha Rosler, whose photomontage Red Stripe Kitchen is featured on the cover of our quarterly print calendar.

It is also the Smithsonian’s Year of Music, so stay “tuned” for programs that reverberate with our unparalleled collections, from jazz, to classical, to contemporary. Events this season include performances by SAAM’s ensemble-in-residence 21st Century Consort; the popular Luce Unplugged series highlighting local musicians; jazz from Jason Moran and Marvin Sewall; and the Take5! concerts with Shannon Gunn and Cecily Bumbray in the Kogod Courtyard.

As we look forward to these new initiatives for 2019, we are thrilled that 2018 brought us our highest attendance levels yet. Three million people walked through the doors of SAAM and the Renwick Gallery to experience art, discover artists, and be inspired by the creativity of America. Now that is music to my ears!

Thank you for your support. See you in the galleries!