The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the nation's first collection of American art, is an unparalleled record of the American experience. The collection captures the aspirations, character and imagination of the American people throughout three centuries. The museum is the home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal key aspects of America's rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. More than 7,000 artists are represented in the collection, including major masters, such as John Singleton Copley, Gilbert Stuart, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Jacob Lawrence, Helen Frankenthaler, Christo, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Lee Friedlander, Roy Lichtenstein, Nam June Paik, Martin Puryear, and Robert Rauschenberg.
The museum has been a leader in identifying and collecting significant aspects of American visual culture. American Art has the largest collection of New Deal art and the finest collections of contemporary craft, American impressionist paintings, and masterpieces from the Gilded Age. Other pioneering collections include photography, modern folk art, work by African American and Latino artists, images of western expansion, and realist art from the first half of the twentieth century. In recent years, the museum has focused on strengthening our contemporary art collection, and in particular media arts, through acquisitions and by commissioning new artworks.
The museum’s main building, a National Historic Landmark located in the heart of Washington’s downtown cultural district, has been meticulously renovated with expanded permanent-collection galleries and innovative public spaces. The Luce Foundation Center for American Art, the first visible art storage and study center in Washington, allows visitors to browse more than 3,300 works from the collection. It adjoins the Lunder Conservation Center, which is shared with the National Portrait Gallery, the first art conservation facility to allow the public permanent behind-the-scenes views of the preservation work of museums.