The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, with 19 museums and the National Zoo—shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing our resources with the world.
The Institution was founded in 1846 with funds from the Englishman James Smithson (1765–1829) according to his wishes “under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” We continue to honor this mission and invite you to join us in our quest.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), the United States' first collection of American art, is the home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal America’s rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today, with more than 7,000 artists are represented in the collection, The museum has been a leader in identifying and collecting significant aspects of American visual culture, including photography, modern folk and self-taught art, African American art, Latino art, and video games. The museum has the largest collection of New Deal art and exceptional collections of contemporary craft, American impressionist paintings, and masterpieces from the Gilded Age, and maintains six online research databases with more than a half million records, including the Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture that document more than 400,000 artworks in public and private collections worldwide.