From the Director: We Hear America Singing

A photograph of a woman standing in front of artwork inside a museum.

SAAM's director, Stephanie Stebich. Photo by Gene Young.

On Friday, May 31, we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman's birth. Whitman has a special connection to SAAM; during the Civil War he spent time in the Patent Office Building—now home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum—caring for the sick and wounded. He called it "that noblest of Washington buildings." Whitman wrote poetry the celebrates and praises the everyday, emphasizing universal stories that link us together and redefine who we are as Americans.

The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.

— Walt Whitman

At SAAM, we like to celebrate our national stories by sharing our artworks, as diverse and as inclusive as the artists who created them, and as inspiring as Whitman's poems. We offer a robust national touring program, so if you weren't able to make it to DC for our blockbuster exhibition, No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, you'll be able to experience it at the Cincinnati Art Museum through September 2, and on the West Coast when it opens at the Oakland Museum of Art in mid-October. Other exhibitions currently on the road include Modern American Realism: Highlights from the Sara Roby Foundation Collection, that just opened at the Nantucket Historical Association on May 28. View our traveling exhibition page for additional offerings coming to a museum near you.

SAAM is more than just a destination museum, and more than just the creator of outstanding exhibitions—we're also a leader in national and international research. We are advancing scholarship, sending our American Art journal across the country and around the world, welcoming fellows for advanced research as they increase their knowledge and grow the field of American art, and training conservators in new techniques to care for our collections, from traditional works of art to contemporary time-based media.

Through our comprehensive education programs we are helping change how students learn and teachers teach. Our Summer Institutes for teachers bring together educators from around the country for intensive residencies with our museum professionals. These amazing educators go back to their classrooms with rich, art-based tools to add to their curriculums.

Find SAAM in DC, online, and also on the road, telling the American story through treasured artworks and programs that educate, inform, and inspire. As you travel across the nation this summer, please join us whenever—and wherever—you can!

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