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Galleries for Modern and Contemporary Art

September 22, 2023 – Ongoing
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Audrey Flack, Queen, 1976, acrylic on canvas, 80 × 80 in. (203.2 × 203.2 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Louis K. and Susan P. Meisel, 2022.11.5

3rd Floor galleries including the Lincoln Gallery

The Smithsonian American Art Museum reopens its modern and contemporary galleries with a new installation of its permanent collection that freshly examines the explosion of possibility in American art between the 1940s and today. Artists using new materials and techniques—and inspired by the social, cultural, and technological changes around them—are featured in American Voices and Visions: Modern and Contemporary Art. This is the initial phase of a multiyear renewal and reinstallation of the museum’s permanent collection galleries slated for overall completion in 2026 in honor of America’s semiquincentennial.

The reopening of the modern and contemporary galleries is the first reinterpretation of its holdings since the museum’s National Historic Landmark building reopened in 2006 after an extensive renovation. The selected works on view highlight established strengths of the museum’s collection, such as its leading collections of work by Black and self-taught artists, while featuring new areas of collection growth since 2006, including post-World War II and contemporary art, time-based media and Latinx art. The installation acknowledges the multifaceted narratives, identities and artistic practices that exist in the United States by including the often-overlooked histories and contributions by Asian American, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, LGBTQ+ and women artists, part of a museum-wide effort to provide a more expansive view of American art.