The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the nation's first collection of American art, is an unparalleled record of the American experience. The collection captures the aspirations, character and imagination of the American people throughout three centuries. The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal key aspects of America's rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. More than 7,000 artists are represented in the collection, including major masters, such as John Singleton Copley, Gilbert Stuart, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Jacob Lawrence, Helen Frankenthaler, Christo, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Lee Friedlander, Nam June Paik, Martin Puryear and Robert Rauschenberg.
The museum has been a leader in identifying significant aspects of American visual culture and actively collecting and exhibiting works of art before many other major public collections. The museum has the largest collection of New Deal art and the finest collections of contemporary craft, and American impressionist paintings and masterpieces from the Gilded Age. Other pioneering collections include historic and contemporary folk art; work by African American and Latino artists; photography from its origins in the 19th century to contemporary works; images of western expansion; and realist art from the first half of the 20th century. In recent years, the museum has strengthened its commitment to contemporary art through curatorial appointments, endowments, acquisitions, commissions and an annual artist award.
A recent renovation of the museum's historic main building expanded the permanent collection galleries and created innovative new public spaces. The Luce Foundation Center for American Art, the first visible art storage and study center in Washington, allows visitors to browse more than 3,300 works from the collection. It adjoins the Lunder Conservation Center, which is shared with the National Portrait Gallery, the first art conservation facility to allow the public permanent behind-the-scenes views of the preservation work of museums.