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Featured Exhibition

Pushing the Envelope: Mail Art from the Archives of American Art

Mail art (alternatively called “correspondence art” or “postal art”) emerged as a form of artistic practice in which an international network of participants use the mail to make art and share it with others regarding culture and communications, creatively sidestepping the art market and, in many instances, eluding government censors.

Collections on View

  • Organized by Curator of Manuscripts Mary Savig, the exhibition revisits a 1977 exhibition at Los Angeles’ Woman’s Building, a feminist art school, gallery, and community space founded by Judy Chicago, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, and Arlene Raven in 1971. The Archives, which holds the Woman’s Building papers in its collections, will reconsider this exhibition by showing responses from the 1977 show alongside new submissions by both original participating artists as well as a new generation of diverse artists. Approximately 75 works will be on view.
    What is Feminist Art? is now on view at the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery in Washington, D.C.


Aug. 26, 2021

The Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, is pleased to announce Articulated: Dispatches from the Archives of American Art, a new podcast series showcasing one of the oldest, largest, and most respected oral history collections in the world.

Jun. 6, 2021

The Archives of American Art is pleased to announce the appointment of Jenny L. Williams, as associate director for advancement. Williams will be based in the Archives’ Washington, D.C. Headquarters. For the time being, she will work remotely in Washington, as the Archives’ research centers remain temporarily closed due to COVID-19.

On the Blog

  • National collector Josh T. Franco highlights the Nela Arias-Misson Papers, recently acquired by the Archives. The following essay was originally published in the Fall 2021 issue (vol. 60, no. 2) of the Archives of American Art Journal.

Terra Foundation Center for Digital Collections

A virtual repository of a substantial cross-section of the Archives' most significant collections.

Visit the Terra Foundation Center for Digital Collections

Visit a Research Center

Original material can be consulted by appointment in our Washington, D.C. Headquarters.

Select holdings are available on microfilm at the Archives' offices in Washington, D.C. and at our New York Office.

Copies of unrestricted microfilm materials can be obtained through one of our affiliated research centers.

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Internship, fellowship, and volunteer opportunities provide students and lifelong learners with the ability to contribute to the study and preservation of visual arts records in America.