Smithsonian American Art Museum

Selldorf Architects to Revitalize Smithsonian American Art Museum Key Galleries and Public Spaces 

Selldorf Architects, February 3, 2023

We are thrilled to announce that the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) has engaged Selldorf Architects to revitalize its permanent collection galleries and renew key public spaces, marking the first comprehensive reinstallation of the museum’s exhibition and interpretation spaces since 2006 when its National Historic Landmark building was last renovated. Originally designed between 1836 and 1867 for the U.S. Patent Office, the building was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in 1952 to serve as a museum.

The design will set the stage for a new vision of American art at the nation’s flagship collection, showcasing newly acquired works, foregrounding new voices, and adding interpretation strategies that will present a more inclusive narrative of American art, including the often-overlooked contributions of Black, Latinx, Asian American, LGBTQ+, Indigenous and women artists.

The first phase of the work to be completed in September 2023 includes the renovation of 20,000 sf of gallery space on the third floor for the presentation of modern and contemporary art. The design provides a clear architectural expression throughout the interior while maintaining the integrity of the historic fabric. Mechanical wall grilles have been reconfigured to high wall linear slots providing larger and uninterrupted expanses of wall for the display of art, and columns are consistently expressed to reveal the structure of the room. New wall layouts provide for more intuitive circulation and curatorial juxtapositions and include a dedicated gallery for time-based media.

For more information read the press release on SAAM’s website here.