Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is a museum in Washington, D. C. part of the Smithsonian Institution. Together with its branch museum, the Renwick Gallery, SAAM holds one of the world's largest and most inclusive collections of art, from the colonial period to the present, made in the United States; the museum has more than 7,000 artists represented in the collection. Most exhibitions take place in the museum's main building, the old Patent Office Building, while craft-focused exhibitions are shown in the Renwick Gallery; the museum provides electronic resources to schools and the public through its national education program. It maintains seven online research databases with more than 500,000 records, including the Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture that document more than 400,000 artworks in public and private collections worldwide. Since 1951, the museum has maintained a traveling exhibition program; the Smithsonian American Art Museum has had many names over the years—Smithsonian Art Collection, National Gallery of Art, National Collection of Fine Arts, National Museum of American Art.

The museum adopted its current name in October 2000. The collection, begun in 1829, was first on display in the original Smithsonian Building, now nicknamed the "Castle"; the collection grew as the Smithsonian buildings grew, the collection was housed in one or more Smithsonian buildings on the National Mall. By the 1920s, space had become critical: "Collections to the value of several millions of dollars are in storage or temporarily on exhibition and are crowding out important exhibits and producing a congested condition in the Natural History, Industrial Arts, Smithsonian Buildings". In 1924, architect Charles A. Platt – who designed the 1918 Freer Gallery for the Smithsonian – drew up preliminary plans for a National Gallery of Art to be built on the block next to the Natural History Museum. However, this building was never constructed; the Smithsonian American Art Museum first opened to the public in its current location in 1968 when the Smithsonian renovated the Old Patent Office Building in order to display its collection of fine art.

American Art's main building, the Old Patent Office Building, is a National Historic Landmark located in Washington, D. C.'s downtown cultural district. An example of Greek Revival architecture, it was designed by architects Robert Mills and Thomas U. Walter. During the 1990s, the Smithsonian Institution worked on restoring the building; the Smithsonian completed another renovation of the building in July 1, 2006. The 2000-2006 renovation restored many of the building's exceptional architectural features: restoring the porticos modeled after the Parthenon in Athens, a curving double staircase, vaulted galleries, large windows, skylights as long as a city block. During the renovation, the Lunder Conservation Center, the Luce Foundation Center for American Art, Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium, the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard were added to the building. In 2008, the American Alliance of Museums awarded reaccreditation to the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Smithsonian American Art Museum shares the historic Old Patent Office building with the National Portrait Gallery, another Smithsonian museum.

Although the two museums' names have not changed, they are collectively known as the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture. Under the auspices of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Renwick Gallery is a smaller, historic building on Pennsylvania Avenue across the street from the White House; the building housed the collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art. In addition to displaying a large collection of American contemporary craft, several hundred paintings from the museum's permanent collection — hung salon style: one-atop-another and side-by-side — are featured in special installations in the Grand Salon. Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum has a broad variety of American art, with more than 7,000 artists represented, that covers all regions and art movements found in the United States. SAAM contains the world's largest collection of New Deal art. Among the significant artists represented in its collection are Nam June Paik, Jenny Holzer, David Hockney, Georgia O'Keeffe, John Singer Sargent, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Albert Bierstadt, Edmonia Lewis, Thomas Moran, James Gill, Edward Hopper, John William "Uncle Jack" Dey, Karen LaMonte and Winslow Homer.

SAAM describes itself as being "dedicated to collecting and enjoying American art. The museum celebrates the extraordinary creativity of artists whose works reflect the American experience and global connections." The American Art's main building contains public spaces. The museum has two innovative public spaces; the Luce Foundation Center for American Art is a visible art storage and study center, which allows visitors to browse more than 3,300 works of the collection. The Lunder Conservation Center is "the first art conservation facility to allow the public permanent behind-the-scenes views of the preservation work of museums"; the Luce Foundation Center, which opened in July 2000, is the first visible art storage and study center in Washington, D. C. and the fourth center to bear the Luce Family name. It has 20,400 square feet on the t

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