Exhibitions

A close up image of a white orchid in a multicolored container featuring an abstract design with purple, blue, yellow, pink and white colors. In the background are green plants held in matching multicolored containers featuring an abstract design in pink, white, purple and gold colors.
The Future of Orchids: Conservation and Collaboration
January 27, 2024April 28, 2024
This exhibition from Smithsonian Gardens features 200 varieties of orchids alongside works by contemporary multimedia artist Phaan Howng.
Five images suspended in a gallery space.
Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour — Frederick Douglass
December 8, 2023 — December 62026
A presentation of Isaac Julien’s tour de force moving image installation that interweaves period reenactments across five screens to create a vivid picture of nineteenth-century activist, writer, orator, and philosopher Frederick Douglass.
Media - 2023.9A-G - SAAM-2023.9A-G_1 - 147614
Carrie Mae Weems: Looking Forward, Looking Back
September 22, 2023 — July 72024 
This focused exhibition pairs two projects by Carrie Mae Weems—a major multimedia installation and a series of photographs—that revisit moments from history.
Electronic Superhighway
Galleries for Modern and Contemporary Art
Ongoing
The Smithsonian American Art Museum's galleries for modern and contemporary art display selections from the permanent collection from the 1940s to the present.
J. P. Ball, Unidentified sitter, 1858–60, daguerreotype
J. P. Ball and Robert S. Duncanson: An African American Artistic Collaboration
September 15, 2023March 24, 2024
This focused exhibition pairs artwork by two Black artists working in the mid-nineteenth century—photographer J. P. Ball and painter Robert S. Duncanson.
Media - 1978.40.3 - SAAM-1978.40.3_2 - 137737
Composing Color: Paintings by Alma Thomas
September 15, 2023June 2, 2024
The exhibition Composing Color: Paintings by Alma Thomas provides an intimate view of Alma Thomas’ evolving artistic practices during her most prolific period from 1959 to her death in 1978.
Tour Dates
  • 1
    Denver Art Museum
    Denver, CO
    September 8, 2024January 12, 2025
Artist Lily Hope with an ornamental headdress
Sharing Honors and Burdens: Renwick Invitational 2023
May 26, 2023-March 312024 
Artists Joe Feddersen (Arrow Lakes/Okanagan), Lily Hope (Tlingit), Ursala Hudson (Tlingit), Erica Lord (Athabaskan/Iñupiat), Geo Neptune (Passamaquoddy), and Maggie Thompson (Fond du Lac Ojibwe) present a fresh and nuanced vision of Native American art.
Colorful multi-media vase
Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery
Ongoing
SAAM’s branch location for contemporary craft, the Renwick Gallery, showcases the dynamic landscape of American craft today. Currently on view are more than 100 works in a range of mediums from fiber and ceramics to glass, metal, wood, and mixed media.
Media - 1967.129 - SAAM-1967.129_1 - 65164
Artist to Artist
October 1, 2021May 18, 2025
Artist to Artist features paired artworks, each representing two figures whose trajectories intersected at a creatively crucial moment, whether as student and teacher, professional allies, or friends.
A close up of Echelman's installation for WONDER at the Renwick Gallery.
Janet Echelman’s 1.8 Renwick 
Ongoing
Janet Echelman's colorful fiber and lighting installation, suspended from the ceiling of the Renwick Gallery's Grand Salon, examines the complex interconnections between human beings and our physical world.
Media - 1970.353.1-.116 - SAAM-1970.353.1-.116_9 - 127238
Galleries for Folk and Self-Taught Art
Ongoing
SAAM’s collection of folk and self-taught art represents the powerful vision of America’s untrained and vernacular artists.
Media - 1965.18.43 - SAAM-1965.18.43_1 - 64716
Experience America
Ongoing
Look into America in the 1930s, a heady time when the country’s artists captured the beauty of the landscape, the industry of America’s working people, and a sense of community shared in towns large and small despite the Great Depression.