Eye Level

Eye Level is the blog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery. Publishing behind-the-scenes museum stories since 2005.

Before and After

Last week Kriston posted his impressions of the newly renovated Old Patent Office building which will house SAAM and the National Portrait Gallery come July 1.

Eye Level Wins MUSE Award

Eye Level has won a MUSE Award from the American Association of Museums—we took home a silver in “Two-Way Communication Projects.”

Meet the Press

Last week All Things Considered ran a feature by Lynn Neary about the restoration of the Old Patent Office building, which houses the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.

Looking at Art with Fresh Eyes

There’s nothing like looking at artworks with fresh eyes—or, at least, watching others look with fresh eyes.

Presenting Dorothy Draper

If you don't know the name, you know her work. She is the incredible Dorothy Draper (1889-1969), and she is having a banner year.

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Part I)

In person, Hiroshi Sugimoto resists the descriptions that apply to his photography; he is not dour or somber but affable, even irreverent.

The Hours

Recently my roommate and I found ourselves tossed out of the Dada exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. No, not for any Dada-inspired improvised performances—merely because the museum closed. We showed up at the museum at 2:30 p.m. or so on a Saturday and hadn't finished looking through the final room when the museum announced last call.

The Chair

Tyler Green writes about an off-key Wayne Thiebaud given to the Smithsonian American Art Museum last year as part of a bequest by Arthur and Edith Levin. It's a 1957 painting of an electric chair, which places Thiebaud on the capital punishment beat several years before Andy Warhol stepped his Sing Sing photograph into production in the early 1960s for his iconic electric chair series.

Best of the Web

The Museums and the Web conference announced the winners of its Best of the Web competition Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Manifest Destiny

This doesn't specifically concern American art—or even anything on the planet Earth—but of the craters on the planet Mercury named after important terrestrial cultural figures, only one American artist and one American architect are represented: respectively, John Singleton Copley (latitude: 38.4S, longitude: 85.2W) and Louis Sullivan (latitude: 16.9S, longitude: 86.3W).

Museums and the Web Wake-Up Call

I thought I was beginning to understand this job just a little bit. We talk to curators and educators about art, listen to the public, and generally get excited about things and try to pull it all together in digital form. We’ve been doing Web and new media for 10 years now, and I was beginning to feel like I was getting the hang of it.

Safire's Spreadsheet

A grammar maven and self-described “vituperative right-wing scandalmonger,” former New York Times opinion columnist William Safire is not your typical arts advocate. But Safire wants you to rethink not only the politics of art but art itself, according to Philip Kennicott’s Washington Post write-up of the 19th annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy.

A Herculean Move

How does SAAM move a monumental artwork into the museum? Watch this video to find out!

Grant Wood's Studio

Grant Wood’s iconic work, American Gothic, makes a return visit to Washington for the first time in 40 years. See it—along with lesser-known gems, such as Corn Cob Chandelier— in Grant Wood’s Studio: Birthplace of American Gothic.

Shedding Some Light on Art

A small crowd gathered in our offices this morning to watch Scott Rosenfeld, SAAM's lighting designer, play with this funky new light fixture.