The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) unveiled its revitalized modern and contemporary art galleries yesterday, ushering in a new era of exploration into American art from the 1940s to the present.
The reopening features curated selections that emphasize the museum’s longstanding commitment to Black and self-taught artists, while also highlighting acquisitions and collections growth since 2006, encompassing post-World War II and contemporary art, time-based media, and Latinx art.
This marks the first phase of a comprehensive reimagining of the museum’s permanent collection galleries, titled American Voices and Visions. By encompassing the often-overlooked stories and contributions of Asian American, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, women, and LGBTQ+ artists, the new installation aligns with SAAM’s broader mission to provide a more inclusive perspective on American art.
The reimagined galleries showcase a blend of newly acquired artworks and iconic pieces from the collection. Renowned artists like Firelei Báez, Tiffany Chung, Thornton Dial Sr., Audrey Flack, Jeffrey Gibson, Tseng Kwong Chi, Miguel Luciano, Ken Ohara, Martha Rosler, Alison Saar, Hank Willis Thomas, Carlos Villa, and Kay WalkingStick, among others, are prominently featured.
The newly acquired artworks, many of which are being displayed for the first time, are presented alongside masterpieces by Alma Thomas, Morris Louis, Nam June Paik, Kerry James Marshall, Louise Nevelson, Mickalene Thomas, Martin Puryear, Jenny Holzer, Alexander Calder, and Sean Scully.
The SAAM’s sophisticated redesign was conducted in collaboration with Selldorf Architects. This redesign accentuates the building’s historical architectural elements while optimizing the display of artworks.
The expanded wall layout doubles the available exhibition space, facilitating dynamic circulation patterns that promote the fluidity between artistic disciplines and historical narratives. A standout feature is the inclusion of a 1,700-square-foot multimedia gallery, specially designed to accommodate time-based media artworks and installations.
Featured Image: American Voices and Visions: Modern and Contemporary Art (installation view). Courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum