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Visual Arts

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is creating a comprehensive collection of fine art to include painting, sculpture, works on paper, art installations, photography, and digital media by and about African Americans. We intend to present American art history through the lens of the African American artist. We also will re-contextualize artwork depicting African Americans by non-black artists. The collection will showcase the various strategies visual artists have used for more than three centuries to comment on significant historical moments, as well as to reflect upon or promote political and social change. By collecting and featuring artworks that encompass a broad range of historical eras, stylistic genres, and regional movements within the context of American art history, we will shift the focus of art by and about African Americans from the periphery of the canon to its core.

Phillis Wheatley, 1973, Elizabeth Catlett (b. 1919) Bronze sculpture on wooden base, 19.5 x 12 x 13 inches, Edition of 4.  Museum Purchase

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, © Elizabeth Catlett/Licensed by Visual Artists and Galleries Association, Inc. (VAGA), New York, NY