Expanding the Legacy: New Collections on African American Art


In celebration of the 2016 Grand Opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution, the Archives of American Art presents selections from recently acquired collections, highlighting the cultural contributions and the personal stories of African Americans in the art world.

Included are letters, photographs, notebooks, and other rare materials that bring new perspectives to the history of American art in the twentieth century, from Paris and New York, to Chicago and Alabama. These records reveal the ways in which artists, dealers, and scholars experienced and contended with racism, explored cultural identity and aesthetics, navigated the art market, and were shaped by—and helped shape—major social and political currents.

The documents on view join the papers and oral histories of Emma Amos, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Alma Thomas, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Kehinde Wiley, and scores of other collections, documenting African American art from mid-nineteenth century to the present, available at our headquarters in Washington, DC, our research center in New York City, and online at www.aaa.si.edu.