Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum, aka SAAM, is part of Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian Institution — and it’s a key stop on our incredible team building tours in DC.

Along with the Renwick Gallery, SAAM boasts an art collection worthy of international attention. More than 7,000 artists are part of the expansive collection. A large portion of the museum’s collection resides in the Old Patent Office Building alongside the collection belonging to the National Portrait Gallery. (Fun fact: You’ll visit both museums on our company team building and Un-Highlights tours!) 

Fun Facts About The Smithsonian American Art Museum

  • The collection started in 1829 in the “Castle,” which is the nickname for the original Smithsonian Building.
  • More than 2.5 million people are estimated to have seen the museum’s traveling exhibits. 

Below we’ve included a FAQ Section with lots of logistical information to help you plan your visit. Scroll down to view our “5 Things to See at the Smithsonian American Art Museum” for a quick virtual tour of sorts.

Seem like a lot of art to cover? Let us do the work for you! Come check out one of our new renegade tours or bring your team to learn from some of the best figures history has to offer. 


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5 Things To See At The Smithsonian Art Museum

Portrait of Mnonja

Mickalene Thomas’s 2010 Portrait of Mnonja is part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection of art by African American artists. The SAAM is home to one of the world’s largest African American art collections, with at least 2,000 paintings by more than 200 African-American artists. 


The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s sculpture collection is considered to be one of the best around the world. Here we see Puck, a sculpture by Harriet Hosmer, which she completed in 1856. 

Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii

Nam June Paik‘s piece was inspired when he came to American in the 1960s. Today, Pak is thought of as the leader of video art. 

Jackpot Machine

From the SAAM’s website: “Creamy strokes of red, white, and blue invite the viewer to follow the American dream, grab the handle and get rich quick, like all those who come to the West Coast looking for the prize. Only two out of three tokens line up, however, as if Thiebaud wanted to point out how random success can be.”

Nuestra senora de Belen

The SAAM is home to iconic art, including Jose Campeche y Jordan’s Nuestra senora de Belen, depicting the Virgin Mary.