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Smithsonian American Art Museum

Eighth & G Streets, N. W.
Washington, D C

Phone: 202 357 2700 --
TTY: 202 357 1729

While the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s main building in Washington, D.C., is closed for renovation, the museum is coordinating the most extensive art tour ever, Treasures to Go.

Comprised of eight traveling exhibitions crisscrossing the nation, Treasures to Go is coming to a city near you:


September 14 November 25, 2001
Middlebury College Museum of Art, Middlebury, Vermont

October 2 December 16, 2001
The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California

June 21 - October 21, 2001
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine

September 9 - November 4, 2001
Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma

October 13 - December 9, 2001
Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, New York

September 8 November 11, 2001
Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois

October 7, 2001 - January 6, 2002
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts

October 11, 2001 January 20, 2002
The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Jacksonville, Florida


For a complete itinerary, visit us online at

Statement of Purpose:

American art, including paintings, sculpture, graphic art, photography, and folk art from the 18th century to the present.

Smithsonian American Art Museum (formerly known as the National Museum of American Art.)  Its Renwick Gallery is now called the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum collection began with gifts of art donated to the federal government in 1829 and has evolved into the world's most important American art holdings with approximately 39,000 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings, photographs, folk art and contemporary crafts.

Highlights & Collections:

The first federal art collection in the United States predates the founding of the Smithsonian Institution in 1846.

The museum originated with Washingtonian John Varden, who in 1829 began collecting art and objects he deemed fitting for the nation's capital. Varden's expanding collection was transferred to the U.S. government in 1841 and was installed on the top floor of the first completed wing of the new Patent Office Building. The collection was then incorporated into the Smithsonian and parts of it were placed on view in a special hall in the National Museum of Natural History when it opened in 1909; the rest was stored or lent to government offices throughout Washington.

The museum returned to Washington's historic Old Patent Office Building in 1968 where it shares the building with the National Portrait Gallery and the Archives of American Art. Called the National Gallery of Art from 1907 to 1937 and the National Collection of Fine Arts until 1980, the museum's name was changed to the National Museum of American Art in 1980 to reflect its decades-old policy of acquiring only American art.

Some 37,500 works in the collection range from colonial portraits to the dynamic contemporary art of this century. American crafts are featured at the museum's Renwick Gallery (see Renwick listing), housed in a separate historic building.

Highlights include: three panoramic views of the Grand Canyon by Thomas Moran, George Catlin's Indian Gallery, Impressionist masterworks, works by African American and Latino artists, WPA arts from the 1930s, and the third-floor Lincoln Gallery, which displays 20th-century masters.

Collection of 37,500 works of American art in all media: paintings, sculpture, graphics, photography from the 18th century to the present.

Exhibits & Special Events:

For more information on exhibitions and programs at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, visit our award-winning Web site at , write us at, or call (202) 275-1594.
While the three-year renovation of the museum's main building-the Old Patent Office-continues, American Art offers a full program of exhibitions at its Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W.), which is dedicated to exhibiting American crafts from the 19th to the 21st century.  Fore more information about Renwick Gallery activities, call (202) 357-2700.

See web site at or call Smithsonian Information for a previsit packet, which includes a list of updated temporary exhibitions.

Contact information:
General Telephone Number: (202) 275-1500
Web site:
Smithsonian Information: (202) 357-2700


Daily: 10-5:30 p.m. Closed on December 25.

Admission & Directions:

Admission is free.

Eighth and G Streets N.W. Metro Station: Gallery Place/ Chinatown (Ninth Street exit).


Key Personnel:

Elizabeth Brown, Director
C. Robertson, Deputy Director.

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