Galleries for Modern and Contemporary Art

Electronic Superhighway

Nam June Paik,Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, 1995, fifty-one channel video installation (including one closed-circuit television feed), custom electronics, neon lighting, steel and wood; color, sound, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 2002.23, © Nam June Paik Estate

Note: Galleries on the museum’s third floor where modern and contemporary artworks are displayed, including the Lincoln Gallery, are temporarily closed to the public as museum staff to make way for new artworks and new stories. The refreshed galleries will reopen in September 2023.


SAAM’s galleries for modern and contemporary art display selections from the permanent collection from the 1940s to the present. Major twentieth-century movements including Abstract Expressionism, Color Field, and pop art are represented with works by Helen Frankenthaler, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Gene Davis, Sam Gilliam, Alma Thomas, James Rosenquist, and Tom Wesselmann, among others.

Work by contemporary artists such as Luis Cruz Azaceta, Mark Bradford, Deborah Butterfield, Theaster Gates, Jeffery Gibson, Bryan Hunt, Kerry James Marshall, Tom Nakashima, Martin Puryear, Lava Thomas, and Mickalene Thomas are on display in SAAM’s light-filled and historical Lincoln Gallery. A striking presence in this gallery are large-scale works including Sky Cathedral by Louise Nevelson, Sollie 17 by Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz, David Hockney’s Snails Space with Vari-Lites, "Painting as Performance," Nam June Paik’s Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and Jenny Holzer’s For SAAM.

A particular collecting focus in recent years has been video and time-based media. The museum has assembled a collection that examines the history as well as latest developments in time-based media. A dedicated gallery, established in 2010, allows for the presentation of the full range of media art practices.

Visiting Information

Temporarily Closed
Open daily, 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m.
Free Admission

Online Gallery

Media - 2015.34 - SAAM-2015.34_1 - 116878
Amendment #8
mixed media
Not on view
Media - 2003.31A-X - SAAM-2003.31A-X_1 - 61338
Snails Space with Vari-Lites, Painting as Performance”
oil on two canvases, acrylic on canvas-covered masonite, wood dowels
Not on view
Media - 2002.23 - SAAM-2002.23_1 - 81981
Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii
fifty-one channel video installation (including one closed-circuit television feed), custom electronics, neon lighting, steel and wood; color, sound
Not on view
Media - 1979.107A-D - SAAM-1979.107_1 - 63220
Sculpture Group Symbolizing World’s Communication in the…
brazed and welded brass and bronze
Not on view
Media - 1968.62.1 - SAAM-1968.62.1_1 - 72583
sheet steel
Not on view
Media - 2014.16A-FF - SAAM-2014.16A-FF_1 - 119357
Black & White
oil on wood panels
Not on view
Media - 1994.85A-AA - SAAM-1994.85A-AA_1 - 11941
Sky Cathedral
painted wood
Not on view
Media - 2017.40 - SAAM-2017.40_1 - 133467
Ground rules. Free throw
wooden flooring
Not on view
Media - 2001.58 - SAAM-2001.58_1 - 62432
Sollie 17
mixed media construction
Not on view
Media - 1973.115 - SAAM-1973.115_1 - 4432
April 4
acrylic on canvas
Not on view
A still from the video shows a woman reclining with her head covered in stones
My Dreams, My Works Must Wait Till After Hell
single-channel digital video, color, sound; 07:14 minutes
Not on view
Media - 1976.108.33 - SAAM-1976.108.33_2 - 123040
Hot Beat
acrylic on canvas
Not on view
Media - 1973.151 - SAAM-1973.151_1 - 4471
Indian Image
acrylic on canvas
Not on view
Media - 2008.38 - SAAM-2008.38_1 - 70131
Sanctuary at Western Sunset
oil on canvas
Not on view
Media - 2011.16 - SAAM-2011.16_1 - 75736
Portrait of Mnonja
rhinestones, acrylic, and enamel on wood panel
Not on view
Media - 2005.22A-Z - SAAM-2005.22A-Z_8 - 122066
Woman Eating
polyester resin and fiberglass with oil and acrylic paints and found accessories
Not on view
Media - 2010.29 - SAAM-2010.29_1 - 73447
acrylic on fiberglass
Not on view

Online Gallery