Visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum to see an extraordinary collection of works by American artists. The artworks liein various corridors and galleries within the Old Patent Office Building, one of the oldest public structures in Washington D.C. Learn about the many forms of expression that have developed across the U.S. in this eclectic museum.
Take the free guided tour to learn about the context behind the highlights of the museum. Pick up an audio guide for the self-guided Civil War tour to trace the conflict that tore Washington D.C. and the nation apart in the 1800s.
In the permanent collection, check out the Galleries for Folk and Self-Taught Art for traditional quilts and sculptures by artists with no official training. Study the paintings in the Experience America section that provide insights into the 1930s. Learn about all types of American themes in the temporary displays that pass through the museum for months or years at a time.
Check out the large exhibits devoted to Latino and African American pieces. Enjoy a meal in the Courtyard Café, beneath the elegant glass roof of the Kogod Courtyard. This area is shared with the National Portrait Gallery. Note that the gallery, which is free to enter, opens daily from late morning until evening.
The museum also owns the Renwick Gallery, which focuses on American craft and decorative arts. Walk west from the Smithsonian American Art Museum for about 20 minutes to reach this intriguing space and admire its eccentric and innovative works of art.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is in the heart of the Penn Quarter, right in the center of Washington D.C. Travel on the Yellow, Red or Green line of the metro to the Gallery Place-Chinatown Station at the museum’s northeastern corner. Madame Tussauds Washington D.C., Ford’s Theatre and the National Building Museum are among the surrounding highlights.