What is American Art?

At this crucial moment in our shared history, SAM wanted to ask the question that only opens up more questions—and more possibilities. After a two-year-long exploration with artists, community leaders, scholars, and students, we present American Art: The Stories We Carry, a new installation of the American art galleries at SAM. Watch how the collaboration unfolded.

A More Expansive Vision
of the American Experience

Oct 20 2022 – Ongoing
Seattle Art Museum

For the first time in 15 years, the Seattle Art Museum presents a new installation of its American art galleries, reinterpreting its historical collection to meet the present moment. The result of an extensive collaboration among SAM curators, staff, artists, and community advisors, American Art: The Stories We Carry brings SAM’s historical American art collection into conversation with its Native art collection, its modern and contemporary art collection, a gallery curated by artist Inye Wokoma, and new commissions by artists Wendy Red Star and Nicholas Galanin. Come take a more expansive look at the American experience.

Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast, 1870, Albert Bierstadt

With artworks across a range of media and genres—including portraiture, landscape, sculpture, decorative arts, and textiles—the exhibition presents America’s complicated history across several themes: how people interact with land and places; how objects reflect histories of trade, migration, and exploration; and the multiplicity of American identities.