Smithsonian American Art

Smithsonian American Art Museum

The acquisition, promotion, and interpretation of the work of artists in the United States.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum became the first federal art collection in the US in 1829. Today, it welcomes nearly 2 million visitors annually. Following the success of "City of Dust" in Reno, Nevada, the art of Burning Man traveled to Washington D.C. This expansive exhibition at the Renwick Gallery (the Smithsonian’s branch museum for contemporary craft and decorative art) took over the entire 14,000 square feet of gallery space with artworks, jewelry, video, and photographs that embody Burning Man. For the first time ever, interactive artworks from previous festivals, as well as new ones commissioned for the exhibition, were even on display outside, throughout the surrounding neighborhood.

In 2018, Bently Foundation awarded a $350,000 grant to the Smithsonian Institution to complete the fundraising for "No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man." The exhibition was on display from March through January of the following year and drew an attendance of more than 766,000 people. Nora Atkinson, the museum's curator, was invited to speak about it at TED in Vancouver (a first for a Smithsonian curator). Several Burning Man artists and founders gave a series of talks about their art and the festival's history, all of which were well attended. Media coverage was phenomenal as well, with over 60 million impressions and stories in many top news outlets. Thanks to its massive success, the exhibition went on tour to both the Cincinnati and Oakland Museums of Art for the remainder of 2019 and early 2020.

First 5 Photos By Ron Blunt: 1 - Foldhaus Art Collective, Shrumen Lumen; 2 - HYBYCOZO, gallery view; 3 - Five Ton Crane Arts Collective, Capitol Theater; 4- David Best, Temple; 5 - Garlington and Bertotti, Paper Arch. Last Photo by Libby Weiler: Duane Flatmo's Tin Pan Dragon

Learn more about the Smithsonian American Art Museum here.