These galleries display a selection from the more than four thousand works of American art in the Museum’s collection.

The history of American art is as complex as the history of the country itself. American art serves as the visual narrative to a largely immigrant nation—a nation rooted in diversity whose history is at times beautiful and at times challenging. The San Diego Museum of Art’s American collection consists of over four thousand works of art. It is a formidable collection, but as with most museum collections, we can learn as much from what we do not see—from what is absent—as from what we do see. America’s history is inherently tied to the visual culture that it has produced—some of which has been embraced in generations past and some that is only now coming to the forefront of institutional recognition. Great strides have been made in rectifying the occlusion of groups or peoples from the history of American art, but there is still much to be done. We encourage you to enjoy, explore, and question what you see as well as what you do not.

American watercolors, prints, and drawings can be found in Visible Vaults.

Jules Tavernier, Kilauea Caldera, Sandwich Islands, 1886. Oil on canvas. The San Diego Museum of Art; Purchased with funds provided by Kevin and Tamara Kinsella. 2002.35.