The Luce Foundation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum by Norbert Marszalek

With my last visit to the Smithsonian American Art Museum I came across a section of the museum that I was not familiar with: The Luce Foundation Center. Open since 2006, the Luce Foundation is the first visible art storage and study center in Washington, D.C. This innovative public space provides three floors of more than 3,300 works from the permanent collection in 64 secure glass cases. You will find paintings, sculptures, miniatures, craft objects, and folk art.

It’s a strange experience seeing these beautiful paintings hung one on the top of the other in rows and rows of these glass cases. At first it seemed like I was looking at someone’s knickknacks in a curio cabinet, albeit very expensive knickknacks. After my initial reaction, it was wonderful seeing all this work instead of it being locked away in some basement like most museums. It would be a step in the right direction if other art museums adopted this open storage paradigm.

More information on the Luce Foundation here.


First floor


View from the first floor


George Bellows – “Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Wase”


Row after row…


Carl W. Peters – “Little Village”


Second floor staircase


Edward Hopper – “People in the Sun”