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Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection


The Smithsonian American Art Museum is dedicated exclusively to the art and artists of the United States. All regions, cultures, and traditions are represented in the museum's collections, research resources, exhibitions, and public programs. The collection features colonial portraits, nineteenth-century landscapes, American impressionism, twentieth-century realism and abstraction, New Deal projects, sculpture, photography, prints and drawings, contemporary crafts and decorative arts, African American art, Latino art, and folk art.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the first federal art collection, begun in 1829 with gifts from private collections and art organizations established in the nation's capital before the founding of the Smithsonian in 1846. The museum has grown steadily to become a center for the study, enjoyment, and preservation of America's cultural heritage. Today it houses the world's most important American art collection, with artworks in all media spanning more than three centuries.

See the following categories for detailed descriptions of our collection.


The American Colonies and the Emerging Nation

Nineteenth-Century Art

Twentieth-Century Art


Drawings, Prints, and Photographs

Pioneering Collections: Folk Art,
African American Art, and Latino Art

Contemporary Craft and Decorative Arts

Luce Foundation Center

The museum's Luce Foundation Center for American Art is the first visible art storage and study center in Washington, D.C. This innovative public space provides new ways to experience American art. Its imaginative design allows visitors to select an area to explore at a glance with more than 3,300 works from the permanent collection in secure glass cases.

Pictured top: John Singer Sargent, Elizabeth Winthrop Chanler (Mrs. John Jay Chapman), 1893, oil, 49 3/8 x 40 1/2 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Chanler A. Chapman

Pictured bottom: Jacob Lawrence, The Library, 1960, tempera, 24 x 29 7/8 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of S. C. Johnson & Son Inc.

Lecture Details
Luce Center for American Art

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