Long before the Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery existed, its founder was already collecting art out of a genuine love for European masterpieces. His name was John Varden, and in 1829 he built an extra room in his house to serve as a makeshift museum. It would take more than a hundred years to find a forever home for this initial collection, which grew exponentially in the meantime. The Smithsonian American Art Museum debuted in its contemporary home back in 1937.
Its massive collection of art ranges from pieces that date back to early America to works of contemporary film and media art. Latino and African American artists are represented, and the exhibits also showcase photography, sculpture, and crafts. The museum also hosts traveling exhibits, so there's always something new to see at the Smithsonian.