Eye Level

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

Meet Dan Finn, SAAM's Media Conservator

As SAAM continues to add time-based media to its collection, conservation of these artforms is becoming an important aspect in our museum. In August 2015 Dan Finn was hired to retrofit an office space and acquire equipment for SAAM's Media Conservation Lab. Dan has a Master's Degree from the New York University's Moving Image and Archiving Program. And we got a chance to talk with him about his work here.

Maya Lin: WONDERS of the Natural World

Maya Lin, whose Folding the Chesapeake, is one of nine room-filling installations in the exhibition WONDER, spoke the other evening in the Renwick's Grand Salon about the three streams of her creative life: art, architecture, and memorials.

March's Handi-Hour: Spring Has Sprung!

Spring is in the air at our March Handi-hour, and we're inspired by Jennifer Angus' In the Midnight Garden as well as the bugs and blooms that are coming to life as the weather warms up. Check out our videos to learn how to make a brightly colored felted wool brooch to accessorize your new spring outfit. And you'll learn how to make bug magnets from recycled bottle caps.

Gone in a Flash: Irving Penn Closes March 20

"Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty," the first retrospective of Penn's work in more than twenty years, shows a master photographer progressing through the decades and includes some early works that are being shown for the first time. Exhibition closes March 20.

Nicholas Nixon's The Brown Sisters

The museum recently acquired The Brown Sisters, an intimate series of forty photographs that spans four decades and captures the poignancy of family relationships and bonds between siblings.

John Grade: Second Nature

Last Sunday afternoon, Seattle-based artist John Grade spoke to an enthusiastic crowd in the Renwick's Grand Salon about his artworks/earthworks .

SAAM's African American Art on Google

SAAM got the opportunity to showcase some of its best art from African American artists when the Google Art Project asked us to participate in its online project.
Jeff on March 3, 2016

Luce Unplugged: Five Questions for Color Palette

Welcome spring with the warm electronic rock sound of Color Palette at the next installation of SAAM's monthly concert series Luce Unplugged. The performance takes place Thursday, March 3rd at 6 p.m.
Amelia on February 24, 2016

Irving Penn: Choreographer

When I started to write "photographer" after Irving Penn's name the other day, I actually began to spell the word "choreographer" instead. Hmmm, I thought, that's interesting, maybe I should take a closer look at that. In fact there is something of the choreographer in Penn, in subject matter as well as in composition.

Love, Dating, and Art in the Luce Foundation Center

Whether we're single or in a relationship, Valentine's Day is always a reminder of our dating status. If you'd like a distraction and want to hear about others' instead, then join us for the Luce Foundation Center's February Artist Talk on Saturday, February 20 at 1:30 p.m. with artists Dafna Steinberg, Jennifer Towner, and Jenny Walton.
Adrienne on February 16, 2016

Five Questions: Craft in a Different Light

The reopening of the Renwick is cause for celebration: WONDER is setting attendance records and turning visitors into instant Instagrammers. Eye Level recently sat down with Renwick curators Nicholas Bell (The Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge) and Nora Atkinson (Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft) to talk about the museum's renovation, the intersection of craft and technology, and what the future holds.

We Remember Collector Teodoro Vidal

Teodoro Vidal, who died last month at the age of 92 in his native Puerto Rico, was a businessman, folklorist, and philanthropist. He was also a collector and self-taught historian, and in the mid-1990s, donated more than half of his collection of 3,346 objects to the Smithsonian.

On Thornton Dial (1928-2016)

The American artist Thornton Dial died on January 25, 2016, at the age of 87. Leslie Umberger, SAAM's curator of folk and self-taught art writes an appreciation about Mr. Dial and his work.
Jeff on February 4, 2016

February's Handi-Hour

February's Handi-hour is sold out, but don't despair! You can get your own private tutoring session with our videos right here. This month we're making string art with map pins, cork boards and embroidery floss.

Painting with LED Light at the Renwick

"Years ago when we started looking at LEDs they just weren't ready for use in museums," says Scott Rosenfeld, lighting director at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery. In 2010, Rosenfeld set out to see what he could learn about LED lighting and apply it to the museum. All lighting within the galleries and public spaces in the recently renovated Renwick was converted to LED after extensive research, testing, and prototype development.

Luce Artist Talk with Jesse Shipley

On Saturday, January 30th tcostume designer Jesse Shipley will visit the Luce Foundation Center to discuss what it's like to see your art as a part of a live performance. This discussion will be the first in in our Luce Artist Talk series for 2016.
Adrienne on January 20, 2016