Eye Level

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

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

Video Games: SAAM's Indie Arcade

Chris Totten, a professor at American University's Game Lab, coordinator for January 16th's Indie Coast to Coast Competition as part of SAAM's Indie Arcade, and head of the Independent Game Developer's Association (IGDA's) D.C. chapter, recently wrote about the intersection of video games and art.

Irving Penn: The Painter's Eye

Photographer Irving Penn, who died in 2009, and whose work is featured in the current exhibition, Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty, combined fashion, art, and photography to create a style uniquely his own. He not only walked the line between the artistic and the commercial worlds, he led the way.

Luce Unplugged: 5 Questions with Stronger Sex

Join us for the first Luce Unplugged of the year next Thursday, January 14th at 5:30 p.m. Stronger Sex, a beloved local experimental noise-pop band, will kick of the concert series' first show of the year.
Amelia on January 5, 2016

Picture This: A 360 Degree Wonder

After a two year renovation, the opening of the Renwick Gallery and its inaugural exhibition, WONDER, have been a major success. The building has been updated to a 21st century elegance allowing the art within to shine.

Jeff on December 29, 2015

Chakaia Booker: This is How I Roll

On Saturday afternoon, artist Chakaia Booker and curator E. Carmen Ramos spoke in the Renwick Gallery's Grand Salon about Booker's work, process, and Anonymous Donor her sculpture/installation in the current exhibition, WONDER.

New Acquisitions: David Smith Sculpture

SAAM has just announced it is acquiring David Smith’s Agricola IV, a ground-breaking sculpture by one of the country’s most important artists. Agricola IV is a major addition to the museum’s presentation of American art in the twentieth century.
Jeff on December 21, 2015