Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery

Colorful multi-media vase

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. These objects deepen the history of the studio craft movement while also introducing contemporary artworks that push the boundaries of what we interpret the handmade to be in the twenty-first century. 


The Renwick Gallery opened its doors fifty years ago on January 28, 1972, to showcase the ingenuity and relevance of craft and design in American culture. Over the years the museum has featured many expressions and definitions of craft. Today, the Renwick continues to showcase the creativity of American artists who push the boundaries of the handmade while making the museum a welcome space for all and one representative of all people.  

Some artworks, like masks and protest banners, serve the immediate needs of the present. Others cast new light on the past, sharing previously untold stories and reframing histories. Many artworks inspire a responsibility to the future, showing how craft can restore relationships to the environment and build coalitions across differences. Every object offers the presence of the artist, revealing the radical and tender possibilities of the hand to craft a better world.  

Featured artists include Bisa Butler, Daniel Brush, Nick Cave, David Chatt, Kelly Church, Cristina Cordova, Einar and Jamex de la Torre, Cindy Drozda, Alicia Eggert, J. Paul Fennell, Susie Ganch, Aram Han Sifuentes, Carla Hemlock (Kanienkeháka), Sharon Kerry-Harlan, Ron Ho, Katie Hudnall, Pat Kramer, Steven Young Lee, Linda Lopez, Roberto Lugo, Tom Loeser, John Mascoll, Connie Mississippi,  Virgil Ortiz, George Rodriguez, Judith Schaechter, Preston Singletary (Tlingit),  April Surgent, Gail Tremblay,  Wanxin Zhang, and many more. 

“The artwork being crafted and collected now is shaping an even bolder future, one that will help us better understand ourselves, each other and the world around us. The Renwick Gallery will continue to be a driving force in this conversation.”   

---Stephanie Stebich, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director 

Many of the works currently on view were featured in the anniversary exhibition This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World. A dedicated gallery features the recent gift from Judith Chernoff and Jeffrey Bernstein of 43 works from their collection of sculptural wood art. 

Visiting Information

Open Daily, 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m
Free Admission


Six duotone book covers are show with "This Present Moment" in black text
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World showcases American craft like never before. Accompanying a 2022 exhibition of the same name, it features artists’ stories of resilience, methods of activism, and highlights craft’s ability to spark essential conversations about race, gender, and representation. This book marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, the nation’s preeminent center for the enjoyment of American craft. It honors the history of the American studio craft movement while also introducing progressive contemporary narratives.
Craft for a Modern World
Craft for a Modern World presents 150 of the Renwick Gallery’s 2,000 artworks in a new light, celebrating the restoration and reopening of its historic landmark home. Encouraging readers to find their own connections—as they have come to expect in today’s hyperlinked world—curator Nora Atkinson describes some of her associations among these artifacts of makers, both contemporary and pioneer. Readers can engage the artworks through subtle linkages in the color plates, which introduce related works in black and white. According to Atkinson, the artworks in this catalogue, many of them newly photographed, “are a playground for the mind.”


SAAM Stories

open egg shaped basket with flash drive inside
Discover how artist Kelly Church is ensuring that centuries of Indigenous traditions are preserved for future generations with her beautifully woven basketry.
A photograph of a very colorful face mask
Julia Kwon’s interactive art projects facilitate solidarity and community
A photograph of a woman with brown hair and a dress standing inside a building.
Mary Savig
Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft
A photograph of a woman wearing a face mask.
Adding functional and artistic masks to SAAM’s collection during COVID-19 projects artists’ messages of strength, resilience, and hope.
A photograph of a woman holding a large basket in museum collection storage.
Anya Montiel
Curator of American and Native American Women’s Art and Craft
A jeweled-encrusted egg
A look at the extraordinary career of master metalsmith and painter Daniel Brush
Photograph of Nora Atkinson by Libby Weiler.
Nora Atkinson
The Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge, Renwick Gallery
A photograph of an artwork
Checking in with the artist who creates lively and unexpected sculptures from clay.
A photograph of a woman with brown hair and a dress standing inside a building.
Mary Savig
Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft
A detailed crop of a highly textured ceramic vessel. The center shows a painting of the rapper Notorious B.I.G. The side handles are busts of Notorious B.I.G. on one and Tupac Shakur on the other.
Remixing classical ceramics and underrepresented figures with a hip-hop style

Online Gallery

A pink neon sign that reads "This Present Moment Used to be the Unimaginable future
This Present Moment
neon, custom controller, steel
On view
Media - 2022.25 - SAAM-2022.25_1 - 146159
Don’t Tread on Me, God Damn, Let’s Go! — The Harlem…
cottons, silk, wool, and velvet
Not on view
Media - 2022.1 - SAAM-2022.1_1 - 143087
Diamond Egg (#90)
24-karat gold and steel with diamonds
On view
Media - 2021.48.1 - SAAM-2021.48.1_1 - 143153
fabric, beads, and sequins
On view
Media - 2021.18.1 - SAAM-2021.18.1_1 - 142995
Love, Dad
glass beads, thread, wooden table, letters
On view
Media - 2021.59 - SAAM-2021.59_1 - 143019
hand built clay and stains
On view
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Ohio Goza y Mas
blown glass, resin castings, and mixed media
On view
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Pele (Hawaiian Goddess of Fire)
Datenot dated
Australian red malee burl and blackwood, garnet and 14-karat gold
Not on view
Media - 2021.66.15 - SAAM-2021.66.15_1 - 143030
Szechwan Serenity
African sumac
Not on view
Media - 2021.81 - SAAM-2021.81_1 - 143177
collected detritus and steel
On view
Media - 2021.10 - SAAM-2021.10_1 - 142993
Our Destruction
wool stroud cloth, wool, glass beads, crystals, sequins
On view
Media - 2021.36 - SAAM-2021.36_1-000001 - 143355
felt, fusible web, and bias tape on cotton
On view
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Portrait of Resilience, from the Flag Series
dye discharge fabric, antique quilt fabric, vinyl, flag fabric, and African print fabric
Not on view
Media - 2021.86.1 - SAAM-2021.86.1_1 - 143072
Necklace Made for Patti Warashina
silver, leather, and Plexiglas with two wood carvings by Julia Harrison and a carved wooden Japanese mask
On view
Media - 2021.21 - SAAM-2021.21_1 - 143073
Nut Case
reclaimed wood, found hardware and fasteners, industrial felt, 178 acorns
On view
Media - 2021.66.23 - SAAM-2021.66.23_1 - 143165
Night Blooming Serious
Norfolk island pine
Not on view
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Vase with Landscape and Dinosaurs
porcelain with pigment and glaze
On view
Media - 2020.64 - SAAM-2020.64_1 - 139931
Blue/​Purple Ombré with Rocks
On view
Colorful multi-media vase
glazed stoneware, enamel paint, luster
On view
Media - 2020.49A-B - SAAM-2020.49A-B_1 - 142597
Sustaining Traditions-Digital Memories
black ash, sweetgrass, rit, copper, vial EAB, flashdrive
Not on view
Media - 2021.58 - SAAM-2021.58_1 - 143163
With You in a Moment
honey locust, ash, shovel and lawn mower handles
On view
Media - 2021.66.26 - SAAM-2021.66.26_1 - 143041
Untitled Lidded Vessel
Not on view
Media - 2021.66.28 - SAAM-2021.66.28_1 - 143167
Midnight Mountain, from the series Circle of Time
Baltic birch plywood
Not on view
Media - 2022.54 - SAAM-2022.54_1 - 146732
Pueblo Revolt 2180
white bentonite clay with bee-weed (spinach) paint
On view
Media - 2022.23A-B - SAAM-2022.23A-B_1 - 147237
Mexican American Gothic
stoneware with glaze and underglaze
On view
woman falling from the sky into a bed of flowers
The Birth of Eve
flash glass, vitreous paint, silver stain, and copper foil
On view
Media - 2021.82A-C - SAAM-2021.82A-C_1 - 142811
Safe Journey
cast and sand-carved glass on wooden pedestal
On view
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On view
Media - 2021.11 - SAAM-2021.11_1 - 143146
When will the Red Leader Overshadow Images of the 19th
35mm film from "Windwalker" (1981), red and white film leader, silver braid
Not on view
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Warrior with Color Face
high-fired clay with glaze
On view