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Exhibitions Highlights

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image of Parallax Gap installation

FreelandBuck, Parallax Gap, 2017, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, copyright FreelandBuck, photo by Libby Weiler

Parallax Gap

July 1, 2017 – February 11, 2018

Parallax Gap, transforms the Renwick Gallery's Bettie Rubenstein Grand Salon into a visual puzzle. This immersive, site-specific installation explores examples of interplay between craft and architecture through a ceiling-suspended structure running the length of the Renwick's iconic gallery. The installation embraces both Eastern and Western concepts of perspective through trompe l'oeil effects and multiple vanishing points to create a sense of soaring architectural volume.

container made with enameled electroformed copper foil

Peter Voulkos, Rocking Pot

Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years

April 7, 2017 – August 20, 2017

Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years, is the first exhibition to focus on the early career of Peter Voulkos, from 1953–1968. While trained as a traditional potter, Voulkos' radical methods and ideas during this period opened up the possibilities for ceramics in ways that are still being felt today.

View Peter Voulkos Online Gallery

container made with enameled electroformed copper foil

June Schwarcz, Apollo's Pool

June Schwarcz: Invention and Variation

March 10, 2017 – August 27, 2017

Pioneering artist June Schwarcz (1918-2015) redefined the art of enameling, experimenting with materials, defying tradition, and quietly breaking all the rules. Her technical innovations combined with her inventive and unorthodox designs set new standards for her field, establishing her as a leading voice in American art who influenced a new generation of artists. June Schwarcz: Invention and Variation presents artworks spanning the entirety of the artist’s career.

View June Schwarcz Online Gallery

Vase with Landscape and Dinosaurs

Steven Young Lee, Vase with Landscape and Dinosaurs, 2014

Connections: Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery

July 1, 2016 - Ongoing

A new installation of artworks from the Renwick’s permanent collection opens seven months after the building reopens, on July 1, 2016. Curated by by Nora Atkinson, the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft, it highlights new acquisitions, updating the presentation of crafts and decorative arts for the 21st century.



nutshell study of a bedroom

Red Bedroom, Frances Glessner Lee, mixed media

Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

October 20, 2017 – January 28, 2018

Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death explores the unexpected intersection between craft and forensic science. Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962) crafted her extraordinary “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death” – exquisitely detailed miniature crime scenes – to train homicide investigators to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.” These dollhouse-sized diorama composites of true crime scenes, still used in forensic training today, helped to revolutionize the emerging field of forensic science. At the same time, they subverted traditional uses for gendered and domestic crafts such as miniature-making and needlework, offering Glessner Lee a rare and honored position in the male-dominated world of police investigation.

large scale installation of illusion of subway tunnel

The Great Northern by Rick Araluce, 2015-2106, MadArt Studio, Seattle

Rick Araluce: The Final Stop

October 20, 2017 – January 28, 2018

Rick Araluce: The Final Stop transforms a gallery into an abandoned underground subway platform in the artist’s first large-scale installation on the East Coast. Stepping on to the platform, visitors are enveloped in the illusion of an eerie subterranean world where flickering lights and distant rumblings suggest the comings and goings of trains that never arrive.

Garlington temple with bike in foreground, temple in middle, and mountains in background

Michael Garlington, Totem of Confessions, 2015, photo courtesy of the artist

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man

March 30, 2018 – September 16, 2018

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, is the first major national exhibition to focus on the large-scale, participatory work from this annual event. The exhibition will take over the entire Renwick Gallery building, bringing alive the maker culture of Burning Man through artworks, immersive room-sized installations, jewelry, costumes and ephemera that will transport visitors to the gathering’s famed desert city and highlight the ingenuity and creative spirit of this cultural movement.

See a full listing of all current exhibitions at the Renwick Gallery and SAAM.