The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Modern and Contemporary Art galleries, closed since 2021 for renovation by Selldorf Architects, reopened on September 22, 2023. The project has greatly enhanced the space for the display of the collection by doubling the amount of wall space and creating new dynamic circulation patterns to reinforce the fluidity between artistic disciplines and historical narratives. Key architectural details, including tall columns, portal skylights and arched, curved ceilings have been refurbished in sensitive balance to the needs of the collection alongside redistributed mechanical systems and new lighting. This project entails the first major reinstallation of the collection since 2006.
Sarah Newman, SAAM’s James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art noted that “What we didn’t have was enough space, nor did we have spaces for the art to talk to each other. We also created spaces with Selldorf Architects to put works of art together meaningfully. Instead of encountering art individually, we’re aiming to create conversations — between works of art, between artists and ideas, and between artists and history.”
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.
Read the full press release on SAAM’s website here.
Photography by Ron Blunt. Courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Photography by Albert Ting. Courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum.