The main facility of the Smithsonian American Art Museum is housed in the building that was recently re-named as the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture. The name was give as the Reynolds Foundation is one of the museum's largest financial supporters. The building is also inhabited by the National Portrait Gallery. The building is a National Historic Landmark. Construction began in 1836. The two museums have been here since 1968. Renovations have sought to accent the Greek revival architecture which includes spacious rooms with natural light pouring in through skylights to illuminate the exhibits.
The Museum's other public space is located nine blocks to the west and is called the Renwick Gallery. That Gallery, at 1661 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, at 17th Street, is in a building designed by the architect James Renwick Jr., which was completed in 1874. This building is also a National Historic Landmark and is located adjacent to the White House. The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Art Museum exhibits artistic decorations and crafts of America from the 19th Century to the present.
The Renwick Gallery is open from 10 AM to 5:30 PM while the main facility in the Reynolds Center is open from 11 AM to 7 PM. Both buildings are regularly open 364 days a year, closing only for Christmas Day. Admission is free of charge both sits.
Both buildings are wheelchair accessible.
The works of over 7,000 American artists are included in the museum's collection which focuses solely on the arts and creative visual arts traditions of the diverse cultures that make up the American experience. It is one of the biggest and broadest American Art collections in existence.
The main Museum's permanent exhibits are based in different time periods as well as styles (such as impressionism). The museum has been a pioneer in the collection and display of Latino American and African American Art as well as Contemporary Folk Art.
In the west wing of the Museum, the Luce Foundation Center fills 3 floors; work is studied here and displayed in a generally less spaciously aesthetic fashion in order to give visitors access to pieces that cannot all be displayed in the regular museum spaces.
Next to the Luce Center is the Lunder Conservation Center which spreads into the National Portrait Gallery side of the building. The Conservation Center allows the public a glimpse into the actual work of conserving and restoring artwork.
Several dining options exist on the premises of the museum including the Courtyard Caf, in the 28,000 foot enclosed garden courtyard in the middle of the building. This Courtyard and the Caf, are shared by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. Free internet access b y Wi-Fi is available in the courtyard space. Concerts and events are often held in this space as well.
There are some paid parking lots nearby however parking is always difficult in the downtown area of this busy city. The main building of the museum is ideally located for public transportation with the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro station located just below the building. The Green Red and Yellow lines all make stops here.
The Renwick Gallery is easily accessed by the D.C. Metro at Farragut North Station on the Red line and Farragut West Station where the Blue and Orange lines stop.