CARRIE MAE WEEMS, “Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me—A Story in 5 Parts,” 2012 (video installation (color, sound) and mixed media, 18:29 min.). | Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase.
Photo courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery, NY

MINDFULLY BUILDING a national collection that showcases a multiplicity of perspectives and experiences is one of the most visible ways a museum can tell important stories.

At the Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery, our curators have been acquiring artworks that present an inclusive story of American art, including often-overlooked histories and contributions of Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+, Indigenous, and women artists. SAAM is adding to its collection artworks made by a broadly representative and diverse group of American artists in all media—from painting and sculpture to time-based media, sound art, photographs, self-taught art, and contemporary craft.

Artists Laura Aguilar, Judith Baca, Dawoud Bey, James Castle, Tiffany Chung, Sonya Clark, David Harper Clemons, David “Dave” Drake, Arthur Jafa, Christine Sun Kim, Simone Leigh, Ana Mendieta, Oree Originol, Alison Saar, Bill Traylor, Kay WalkingStick (Cherokee), Carrie Mae Weems, Fred Wilson, and Wanxin Zhang, among others are represented in SAAM’s collection. In addition, the museum transformed its photography holdings with the L.J. West Collection of early American photography, including works by important Black daguerreotypists James P. Ball, Glenalvin Goodridge, and Augustus Washington.

In 2020, the SAAM launched the Renwick Gallery 50th Anniversary Acquisition Campaign. Through more than 200 objects by artists including Bisa Butler, Sonya Clark, David Harper Clemons, Sharon Kerry-Harlan, Roberto Lugo, and Preston Singletary (Tlingit), the museum is reexamining the landscape of American craft and highlighting stories of persistence, models of resilience, and methods of activism that are relevant to audiences today. More than 130 of these newly acquired artworks will be on display in the exhibition “This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World” opening May 13.

“These artworks define a bolder future that will help us better understand ourselves, each other, and the world around us,” said Stephanie Stebich, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of SAAM.

Learn more about our recent acquisitions


This post is sponsored by the Smithsonian American Art Museum