Past Exhibitions


A silhouette of a woman standing in front of orchids is shown
Orchids: Hidden Stories of Groundbreaking Women
Step into a floral oasis in the Kogod Courtyard with Orchids: Hidden Stories of Groundbreaking Women, an exhibition that unearths stories of women who have enriched the understanding and appreciation of orchids.
January 29, 2022April 24, 2022


A chandelier made of glass that looks like meat.
New Glass Now
New Glass Now documents the innovation and dexterity of artists, designers, and architects from around the world working in the challenging material of glass. This global survey is designed to highlight the breadth and depth of contemporary glass making. Featuring objects, installations, videos, and performances made by fifty artists working in more than twenty-three countries this exhibition challenge the very notion of what the material of glass is and what it can do. 
October 22, 2021March 6, 2022
An artwork image of a woman
Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano 
This exhibition brings to life the Venetian glass revival of the nineteenth century on the famed island of Murano and the artistic experimentation the city inspired for artists such as John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler.
October 8, 2021May 8, 2022
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Welcome Home: A Portrait of East Baltimore, 1975 – 1980
Welcome Home: A Portrait of East Baltimore, 1975-1980 captures a cross-section of East Baltimore residents and businesses in the 1970s, documenting the community’s history and diversity.  These photographs by Elinor Cahn, Joan Clark Netherwood, and Linda Rich were taken as part of a program of photography surveys sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts to celebrate the bicentennial of founding of the United States.
July 16, 2021January 23, 2022
A painting of a bridge made from nature.
Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture
The groundbreaking exhibition Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture reveals how the influential naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) shaped American perceptions of nature and the way American cultural identity became grounded in our relationship with the environment.
May 14, 2021July 11, 2021
Media - 2019.29.1 - SAAM-2019.29.1_1 - 138052
Dawoud Bey and William H. Johnson
This focused installation features recently acquired photographs by Dawoud Bey in conversation with a painting by William H. Johnson that refer to the Underground Railroad.
May 12, 2021August 5, 2021
abstract shapes painted in silver with seven silver ornaments.
Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020
Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020 features artists Lauren Fensterstock, Timothy Horn, Debora Moore, and Rowland Ricketts. Representing craft media from fiber to mosaic to glass and metals, these artists approach the long history of art’s engagement with the natural world through unconventional and highly personal perspectives.
May 11, 2021August 15, 2021


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¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now
In the 1960s, activist Chicano artists forged a remarkable history of printmaking that remains vital today. Many artists came of age during the civil rights, labor, anti-war, feminist and LGBTQ+ movements and channeled the period’s social activism into assertive aesthetic statements that announced a new political and cultural consciousness among people of Mexican descent in the United States. ¡Printing the Revolution! explores the rise of Chicano graphics within these early social movements and the ways in which Chicanx artists since then have advanced innovative printmaking practices attuned to social justice.
November 20, 2020August 8, 2021
An artwork with small details made of beads depicting nature.
Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists
Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists is the first major thematic exhibition to explore the artistic achievements of Native women. Its presentation at SAAM’s Renwick Gallery will include about 80 artworks dating from ancient times to the present and ranging from sculpture, time-based media, photography, textiles, and decorative arts.
February 21, 2020March 13, 2020


A watercolor image of Grand Canyon.
Chiura Obata: American Modern
Japanese-born artist Chiura Obata’s seemingly effortless synthesis of different art traditions defies the usual division between “East” and “West.” This exhibition presents the most comprehensive survey of his rich and varied body of work to date, from bold California landscape paintings to intimate drawings of his experiences of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.
November 27, 2019March 13, 2020
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Picturing the American Buffalo: George Catlin and Modern Native American Artists
Picturing the American Buffalo: George Catlin and Modern Native American Artists examines representations of buffalo and their integration into the lives of Native Americans on the Great Plains in the 1830s and in the twentieth century.
October 11, 2019November 22, 2020
This is an image of a flower coming out of a tree trunk
Ginny Ruffner: Reforestation of the Imagination
Ginny Ruffner (b. 1952) is a glass artist best known for her elegant sculptures and mastery of glass techniques. Recently, she has created work that combines traditional glass sculpture with Augmented Reality (AR) technology to create an interactive viewer experience. Visitors to the exhibition "Reforestation of the Imagination" will use a downloadable app that superimposes digital information over seemingly barren sculptures, creating two distinct realities to explore.
June 28, 2019January 5, 2020
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Michael Sherrill Retrospective
In his delicately rendered sculptures in clay, glass, and metal, Michael Sherrill seeks to elicit a sense of wonder from viewers, and to make them see the natural world anew. Sherrill’s most recent work reveals his naturalist’s sensitivity to botanical wonders, especially those outside his studio in the mountains of North Carolina. This retrospective aligns Sherrill's work with a long history of a reverence for nature in American art.
June 28, 2019January 5, 2020
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American Myth & Memory: David Levinthal Photographs 
Populated with toy cowboys and cavalry, Barbie dolls and baseball players, David Levinthal’s photographs reference iconic images and events that shaped postwar American society. Despite their playful veneer, Levinthal’s images provide a lens through which to examine the myths and stereotypes lurking within our most beloved pastimes and enduring heroes. In doing so, Levinthal encourages us to consider the stories we tell about ourselves—what it means to be strong, beautiful, masculine, feminine, and ultimately, American.
June 7, 2019October 14, 2019
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Sculpture Down to Scale: Models for Public Art at Federal Buildings, 1974 – 1985
Artists used preliminary models—or maquettes—to communicate their ideas. Varied in scale, format, and level of finish, the nine models in this exhibition offer windows into the creative process, with work by Jackie Ferrara, Sol LeWitt, Claes Oldenburg, and Beverly Pepper, among others.
May 31, 2019November 22, 2020
Martha Rosler, Red Strip Kitchen
Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965 – 1975
Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975 makes vivid an era in which artists endeavored to respond to the turbulent times and openly questioned issues central to American civic life.
March 15, 2019August 18, 2019
Tiffany Chung
Tiffany Chung: Vietnam, Past Is Prologue
Through maps, videos, and paintings that highlight the voices and stories of former Vietnamese refugees, Tiffany Chung probes the legacies of the Vietnam War and its aftermath.
March 15, 2019September 2, 2019
A photograph inside the Kogod Courtyard of orchids in various colors.
Orchids: Amazing Adaptations
Orchids: Amazing Adaptations is a joint collaboration with SAAM, the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Gardens, and the U.S. Botanic Garden. This installation fills the museums’ courtyard with hundreds of orchids of stunning variety.
February 14, 2019April 28, 2019
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African American Art in the 20th Century
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is home to one of the most significant collections of African American art in the world. Highlights from this collection are traveling to several cities across the United States in the exhibition African American Art in the 20th Century.
January 18, 2019January 18, 2019


This is a picture of a circular sculpture piece resting on a chair.
Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018
Disrupting Craft presents the work of Tanya Aguiñiga, Sharif Bey, Dustin Farnsworth, and Stephanie Syjuco, four artists who challenge the conventional definitions of craft by imbuing it with a renewed sense of emotional purpose, inclusiveness, and activism.
November 9, 2018May 5, 2019
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Modern American Realism: Highlights from the Sara Roby Foundation Collection
This exhibition presents some of the most treasured paintings and sculpture from SAAM’s permanent collection, including artworks by Will Barnet, Isabel Bishop, Paul Cadmus, Edward Hopper, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Jacob Lawrence, George Tooker, among others.
October 20, 2018November 28, 2018
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Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor
Bill Traylor is regarded today as one of the most important American artists of the twentieth century. His drawn and painted imagery embodies the crossroads of multiple worlds: black and white, rural and urban, old and new. His life—which spanned slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the Great Migration and foreshadowed the era of Civil Rights—offers a rare perspective to the larger story of America.
September 27, 2018April 7, 2019
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Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen
Trevor Paglen blurs the lines between art, science, and investigative journalism to construct unfamiliar and at times unsettling ways to see and interpret the world around us.
June 21, 2018January 6, 2019
A black and white photograph by Diane Arbus titled "Mrs. Gladys 'Mitzi' Ulrich with the baby, Sam, a stump-tailed macaque monkey"
Diane Arbus: A box of ten photographs 
This exhibition traces the history of A box of ten photographs between 1969 and 1973, telling the crucial story of the portfolio that established the foundation for Arbus’s posthumous career.
April 6, 2018January 27, 2019
An image of David Best's Temple inside the Grand Salon at the Renwick Gallery.
David Best’s Temple
David Best’s Temple transforms the Renwick Gallery’s Bettie Rubenstein Grand Salon into a glowing sanctuary, offering visitors a quiet place to reflect and pay tribute to lost loved ones. Originally part of the exhibition No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, this site-specific installation covers the walls with intricately carved raw wood panels that lead to an ornate altar.
March 30, 2018January 5, 2020
The sculpture piece, Shrumen Lumen, at Burning Man at night lit up.
No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man
No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man presents large-scale artworks by individual artists and collectives from this annual desert gathering that highlight the ingenuity and creative spirit of this cultural movement.
March 30, 2018January 21, 2019
Woman standing next to blue hub sculpture
Do Ho Suh: Almost Home
Do Ho Suh’s immersive architectural installations—unexpectedly crafted with ethereal fabric—explore the global nature of contemporary identity as well as memory, migration, and our ideas of home.
March 16, 2018August 5, 2018


This is a Tamayo painting of a New York City skyline and a person looking at it through a telescope.
Tamayo: The New York Years
Tamayo: The New York Years is the first exhibition to explore the influences between this major Mexican modernist and the American art world.
November 2, 2017March 17, 2018
Interior detail of red bedroom study
Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962) crafted her extraordinary “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death”–exquisitely detailed miniature crime scenes–to train homicide investigators to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.” 
October 20, 2017January 28, 2018
A photograph of Rick Araluce's Final Stop structure depicting a train station platform with tracks and tunnels.
Rick Araluce: The Final Stop
Araluce is an artist and scenic designer based in Seattle. His immersive, hyperreal environments, in the form of both room-sized installations and miniature works, reflect his fascination with forgotten and transitional spaces and with what lies hidden there. He incorporates light, sound, and meticulously constructed trompe-l’oeil elements into his installations to create subtle narratives and suggestions of spaces just out of reach, enhancing the feeling that viewers have entered a new, unnerving reality.
October 20, 2017January 28, 2018