Audio Guide: Listen to the Stories Behind the Art

Make the most of your time at SAAM with free audio guides and self-guided tours

A woman stares at a painting while scanning it with ehr phone

Experience the Museum Your Way

Smartify's free personalized tours are tailored to your interests and the time you have available. Simply answer a couple of quick questions and we'll hand pick a collection of unmissable objects and captivating stories just for you.

Two cellphones showing various views of the Smartify app
A woman stands in front of a case filled with sculptures and points her phone at them

Be Your Own Guide

Explore the Smithsonian American Art Museum's collection at your own pace with a personal guide in your hand. When something catches your eye, scan it with the Smartify app to discover its story

Download the app before you visit or using the museum's free Wi-Fi, or scan the QR codes at the museum.
Remember to bring your own headphones with you so that you can listen to the audio content as you explore.

A black button that reads "Download on the App Store"
A black button that reads "Get it on Google Play"

You can also enjoy all your audio guides at home. Just choose one of the tours below to get started.

Collection Highlights

Discover selected works from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection alongside works from the National Portrait Gallery. With guest speakers including artists Kay Walkingstick, Alison Saar and Secretary Lonnie Bunch, deep dive into some of the most exciting works in our museum and discover new ways to experience them. Further immerse yourself in the collection with specially commissioned musical responses to the works. This is an intimate and personal look at world-class art.

Historic Building Tour

Did you know? Our building was the original US patent office. The third oldest building in DC! Far more than a simple civic space, the patent office was the heart of America’s early drive to inspire innovation. In this building thousands of miniature patent models were displayed for the public to learn from. Going on to host Lincoln’s 2nd inaugural ball, wounded soldiers during the civil war and poet Walt Whitman our building has a storied history. Featuring the voices of historian Charles Robertson, Smithsonian Choreographer in Residence Dana Tai Soon Burgess and the architect Annabelle Selldorf. Take this tour to uncover the secrets within our walls.

American Voices and Visions

Created specifically to complement the reopening of the modern and contemporary galleries on the third floor, this tour takes you to the heart of each artwork on display featuring the voices of the artists themselves. 

African American Artists

SAAM is home to one of the most significant collections of works by African American artists in the world. Spanning three centuries of creative expression, these works evoke themes that are both universal and specific to the African American experience. Many reflect questions of personal identity, as well as the tremendous social and political change that occurred from the early Republic to the present day, including the Civil War, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights movement.  Hear from contemporary artists, curators, scholars, and changemakers as they share insights into these iconic works from SAAM’s collection

Art Detectives Family Tour

Take your family through the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery's shared building and become art detectives on this new audio tour designed to enhance your visit. Through the four different activities at each of the stops, discover the hidden stories and meanings behind featured artworks from both museums’ collections and figure out the clue to lead you to the next stop on the trail. Recommended for families with elementary school-age children. 

To start your tour, pick up a map from the information desk in either the G or F Street lobbies and follow the trail.

Illustration of a girl wearing a fedora and looking through a larger-than-life magnifying glass.