The BMA's American Art collection spans a variety of media and includes works from colonial times to the present.
The BMA’s collection of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts includes works ranging from the colonial era to the present day. It features nationally recognized examples of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century portraiture, important regional holdings in silver and furniture from Maryland and Baltimore, outstanding examples of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s works, and modern American masterpieces by Georgia O’Keeffe, Jacob Lawrence, Marsden Hartley, Irene Rice Pereira, Joseph Stella, and many other acclaimed artists. The museum’s galleries also present our significant holdings in craft and design produced up to the present day.
New Installation of American Modernism
In 2022, the BMA reinstalled its collection of American Modernism in two galleries in the BMA’s Dorothy McIlvain Scott American Wing. The galleries examine anew what it meant to be “American” and “modern” during the cultural and social upheavals that occurred between 1900 and 1950. The new galleries feature approximately 60 objects, emphasizing the voices, experiences, and artistic contributions of Native American, immigrant, and historically underrepresented artists. Among the objects are new acquisitions, treasured works that have not been on view in recent years, and a rotating selection of rarely displayed works on paper and textiles.
Thematic groupings allow visitors to draw connections among the objects and to relate the works to contemporary issues and everyday life. In the “Identities” gallery, works by artists and designers such as Richmond Barthé, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Elsa Tennhardt illuminate changing ideas around race, gender, and economic status through subjects like performance and leisure. The “Technologies” gallery brings together works by Greta Grossman, Louisa Keyser, Maurice Martiné, Isamu Noguchi, Horace Pippin, and Joseph Stella, among others, to focus on the rapid societal changes of this period—urbanization, world war, industry, and migration. Two cases adjacent to the galleries highlight the influence of towering skyscrapers and high-speed transportation, as well as material innovation, in household objects designed for machine-age living.
This installation was developed by BMA curatorial staff and includes ideas and research from our ongoing collaboration with students in the Program in Museums and Society at Johns Hopkins University.
This installation is generously supported by the Sigmund M. and Mary B. Hyman Fund for American Art.
Recent Exhibitions Featuring Works in the American Art Collection
By Their Creative Force: American Women Modernists
This exhibition celebrated the contributions women artists have made to the development of American modernism. The show included works by those who were often under-recognized, such as Maria Martinez and Marguerite Zorach.
Free Form: 20th-Century Studio Craft
A a selection of embroidery, ceramics, and jewelry by innovative mid-century American artists who shifted away from the functional aspect of craft towards an avant-garde engagement with abstraction and expression were presented in this 2020 exhibition.