A Look into NCFA Exhibition Posters

As the Smithsonian Institution Archives works to create a new, comprehensive finding aid for Record Unit 452, take a look at some of the posters from this collection and learn about the history of the National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA), now the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Vertically oriented poster of abstract fabric in blue, orange, pink, and white. The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) has undergone many name changes over the years. One of these – the National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA) – was in use from 1937 to 1980. During this time, the NCFA underwent several exciting changes. After years of being housed in multiple locations and several failed attempts to build a permanent building, the collection moved to its current home, the Old Patent Office Building, in 1968. While sharing the building with the National Portrait Gallery, the NCFA finally had a space to call its own! Then, in 1972, the NCFA gained additional gallery space with the acquisition of the Renwick Gallery, located in the old Corcoran Gallery of Art Building. You can read a full history of SAAM here.

Record Unit 452, National Museum of American Art (U.S.) Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981 contains approximately 300 exhibition posters from 1968 to 1983 that document the gallery happenings after the move into the Old Patent Office Building, now known as the Fine Arts and Portrait Galleries. While many of these posters are for exhibitions, there are several advertisements for children’s programs (and even a staff holiday party!) included in the contents. Often times, several copies of a poster exist. Some copies are mounted on board, and some are varying sizes and even different color schemes.

The Preservation and Archives and Information Management teams, with the help of our summer intern, have been working to gather important item-level metadata for this collection in order to compile a comprehensive, useable finding aid. Until then, please enjoy a few selected images of these beautiful posters!

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The Goldsmith, 1974. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Sculpture: American Directions 1945-1975, 1975. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

The Object As Poet, 1976. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Stitch Pictures by Ethel Mohamed, 1976. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Daniel Chester French: An American Sculptor, 1977. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Roots and Visions: Contemporary Hispanic Art in America, 1977. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Painted, Printed, and Dyed: The New Fabric Surface, 1978. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

New Stained Glass, 1978. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Perceptions and Evocations: The Art of Elihu Vedder, 1978. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

. The Grand Beehive Exhibition, 1981. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Good As Gold: Alternative Materials in American Jewelry, 1981. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

William H. Johnson: The Scandinavian Years, 1982. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Joseph Cornell: An Exploration of Sources, 1982. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Elizabeth Nourse, 1859-1938: A Salon Career, 1983. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Speaking a New Classicism: American Archicture Now, 1983. Courtesy of Alison Reppert Gerber. Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

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