Galleries for Folk and Self-Taught Art

Temporarily Closed

Smithsonian American Art Museum (8th and G Streets, NW)
Media - 1970.353.1-.116 - SAAM-1970.353.1-.116_9 - 127238

James Hampton's Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly, ca. 1950-1964, mixed media, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of anonymous donors, 1970.353.1-.116

Note: The folk and self-taught art galleries closed temporarily beginning Monday, October 31 and will reopen in early 2023.

SAAM’s collection of folk and self-taught art represents the powerful vision of America’s untrained and vernacular artists. Represented in the museum’s collection are pieces that draw on tradition—such as quilts—as well as artworks that reveal a more personal vision. The museum has reimagined its permanent collection galleries for art by untrained artists, which now display several dozen recent acquisitions and an expanded presentation of the beloved Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly by James Hampton.

Recently acquired works by Consuelo Gonzalez Amezcua, Emery Blagdon, David Butler, Ulysses Davis, Ralph Fasanella, Clementine Hunter, Dan Miller, Joe Minter, Eddy MummaJ.B. Murray, Achilles Rizzoli, Melvin Way, Charlie Willeto, Clarence and Grace Woolsey, Purvis Young, and Albert Zahn join visitor favorites by Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Martín Ramírez, and Jon Serl. A striking presence in the galleries is a display of more than sixty sculptures and paintings by Emery Blagdon that represents his constantly changing Healing Machine. It is the second-largest installation of his work on public view in the United States.

The new installation of the Throne includes Hampton’s personal journal, written primarily in an asemic, or unreadable script, and a chalkboard still showing some of Hampton’s sketched plans for the Throne. Both are on public view for the first time; the journal will be on display for a limited time.


The museum’s Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. American Folk Art Fund provided support for this installation.