Smithsonian American Art Museum
$77.4 Million raised
Finding Wonder in American Art
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery, the nation’s first collection of American art, captures the aspirations, character and imagination of the American people throughout three centuries. The museum is home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world.
The Smithsonian Campaign was critical in funding a two-year renovation of the Renwick Gallery, which houses the museum’s collection of contemporary craft and decorative art. Thirty-five individuals and organizations gave $100,000 or more to the project, led by Chairman of the Smithsonian Board of Regents David M. Rubenstein. The museum reopened in 2015 with a donor-supported exhibition, Wonder, which featured nine original artworks exploring environmental and social issues.
Donors also helped establish critical museum endowments. Carl and Emily Knobloch gave $1.1 million for a curatorial and collections endowment named for former museum director Elizabeth Broun, who retired in 2016. The Bresler Foundation gave $2.2 million to endow the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator of American Craft and Decorative Art at the Renwick Gallery. The gift also supports research, publications, exhibitions and programs that engage the public in learning about craft.
Elizabeth and Whitney Macmillan gave $8.5 million to build the MacMillan Education Center and endow the museum’s educational programs and activities.
Robert and Arlene Kogod provided a generous donation to support a 10-year program series, America Now. The series captures the American experience in dance, portraiture, music and art. It is jointly organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of American History.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum began in a young democracy eager to become a great civilization. Since the 1830s, each generation of Americans has contributed its best artworks, building an extraordinary collection, which offers great insight into the American experience.
Our main museum building was inspired by the Parthenon, and our elegant branch museum, the Renwick Gallery — the first purpose-built art museum in the country — was inspired by the Louvre.
Now, we have become a world-class 21st-century museum with innovative new museum facilities, including a visible conservation center, state-of-the-art public art storage area and a modern education center.
We have talented curators in many areas, the largest research fellowship program in our field and dynamic educators who reach across the country and around the world. We are in the forefront of new media with major time-based art collections, distance-learning programs and deep research resources online.
The Smithsonian Campaign will advance our commitment to our expanding audiences and tell the stories of today’s America in new ways. We invite your participation.
- Elizabeth BrounThe Margaret and Terry Stent Director, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Endow Art in America
Curators are critical to our commitment to collecting, deciphering and enjoying American art. The museum’s curators must be scholars in specific areas of art, with deep knowledge and expert judgment for collecting. Yet at the same time, they must be creative and have a passion to share ideas.
One of our most urgent priorities is to secure endowment support for these leaders. A gift to endow curators ensures that the museum continues to break new ground in scholarship and programming, which will benefit future generations of museum goers.
Media Arts Endowment
The museum’s curators are building a substantial collection of video and media artworks. The archive of visionary artist Nam June Paik is the cornerstone for the collection. He is known as the “father of video art,” for transforming video into an artist’s tool through his sculptures and installations.
To stay ahead of this dynamic 21st-century medium and to collect work from new artists, the museum seeks investments in an endowment for Media Arts Initiatives. This endowment will support curators, acquisitions, online resources and preservation of time-based work.
We are dedicated to making the museum’s collection and research accessible to teachers and students across the country. Our art is the foundation for educational programming online and in the museum. We seek gifts of endowments as well as gifts for current use to provide stable, yet flexible funding. These resources will support our education team, content development and testing, website and professional development and video-conferencing.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
is raising $65 million of the Smithsonian Campaign’s overall $1.5 billion goal.
Endowment for Curators
Our goal is to create an endowment for $15 million. Gifts of $4 million endow a chief curator position. Gifts of $2.5 million endow curatorships.
Endowment for Media Arts
We seek an endowment of $5 million. An investment of $2.5 million funds a curatorship. Gifts of $25,000 will support acquisitions and special initiatives.
Endowment for Education
We seek an endowment of $20 million. Gifts starting at $100,000 will support educational programming.
Fleur Strauss Bresler
Docent and Family Support American Craft
Fleur Bresler is an arts patron and community leader in Washington, D.C. She and her late husband, Charles Bresler donated a collection of artworks to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where she is a commissioner and has worked as a docent for more than 15 years. Recognizing the importance of a strong curatorial department, Fleur Bresler endowed a craft and decorative arts curatorship through her family foundation. She also encourages her family’s involvement; their recent, generous gift to the Renwick Gallery renovation will be recognized by naming a gallery for the Bresler Family. "The Renwick educates the public and fulfills artists’ desires to benefit generations of viewers. I believe it is important these inspiring projects continue,” Bresler says.
David and Alice Rubenstein
A Smithsonian for Today, Tomorrow and Forever
David Rubenstein and his wife Alice are philanthropists with a passion for American history. At the Smithsonian, they have funded the renovation of the Renwick Gallery, a landmark building in the style of the Louvre, which is part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The Rubensteins' gift is among many they have made to restore important American landmarks, such as the Washington Monument, the National Archives and Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home. They also have given to the National Museum of American History to renovate the exhibition space for the iconic Star-Spangled Banner. And their gifts to the National Zoo fund giant panda conservation efforts in China, the Zoo’s giant panda exhibit, reproduction science and the establishment of a multi-generational herd of Asian elephants. In addition, the couple established a fellowship program to advance the Encyclopedia of Life initiative at the National Museum of Natural History. “When I come to the Smithsonian, I see the world,” David Rubenstein said. “I see the history of the United States. The Smithsonian Campaign will make sure that my children, my grandchildren and my great grandchildren will be able to visit the Smithsonian. It also will ensure that Smithsonian doesn’t become a relic; it will be as up to date as anything in America.”
Capturing America in dance, music and art
Capturing America in dance, music and art
Support from Robert and Arlene Kogod through the Robert and Arlene Kogod Family Foundation brought the Smithsonian American Art Museum event America Now: Innovation in Art to the Kogod Courtyard in June 2015. It included an interactive game by Italian architect Nathalie Pozzi and video game designer Eric Zimmerman, Starry Heavens, which featured this floating, ribbon-like installation overhead. The event was part of a 10-year program series, America Now!, funded by the Kogods, that presents programming in dance, portraiture, music and art and is jointly organized by the National Museum of American History, National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Bettie Rubenstein Honored at the Renwick
As Bettie Rubenstein toured the newly renovated Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum with her son, philanthropist David Rubenstein, she looked up before stepping into the Grand Salon. There, above the entryway, she saw her name "to her complete shock — and pleasure," her son says. Rubenstein's gift to the Renwick helped renew the historic Washington landmark. "I was delighted to honor my mother by having the main gallery named for her, and I was particularly delighted to surprise her with the naming."