Time to Hibernate

A photograph of the facade of the Smithsonian American Art Museum at night with blue lights honoring healthcare workers.

Earlier in the year, SAAM joined the rest of the Smithsonian community in lighting our buildings blue to honor healthcare workers. Photo by Rebekah Mejorado. 

The Smithsonian has made the difficult but necessary decision to close all museums and the National Zoo on Monday, November 23. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time, but as soon as it is safe to reopen our doors, we will provide updates on our website and on social media. 

The world is experiencing one of the most difficult times I can remember. For respite, I went to see what the poets had to say about times of difficulty, and back to the renowned Mary Oliver, who writes in her poem, “Winter Starlings”:

I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it…
I want to be improbable, beautiful and afraid of nothing
as though I had wings.

We’re living though what Mary Oliver called a time of grief and fear, and of one day “getting past it,” of looking forward to doing the things we once did that gave us joy. For me, and I know for many of you, art is what helps us get through difficult times. 

The silver lining here, as much as there can be one, is that our digital team has been working full speed to ensure that our content is online. Our website is now chock full of lectures, family programs, and artist videos to provide you with the best of what we have to offer. With our physical doors temporarily closed, we focus more on our digital doors as we continue to create engaging digital content, including our popular online programs that range from artist panels to scholarly lectures to DIY crafting projects for the whole family

When we do reopen, I’m looking forward to sharing again with you our newest exhibitions, which we purposefully scheduled to have long runs, ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now (through August 8, 2021) and Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020 (through June 27, 2021). Unfortunately, Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture will sadly not reopen, and the works will be returned to our generous lenders.

We look to art for answers, for solace, or for moments of reflection. For me, art can make us feel as if we too had wings to soar.

Our hearts go out to those affected by loss, and our gratitude to those on the front line.

Be safe and be well. We are in this together.