Creating an American Identity

A gallery view with several colorful paintings and two metal sculptures.

Image credit: Photography by Andie Bottrell, Designing Indie.

Exhibit Details

Through July 1, 2024
Thielen, Badgley, and SMMA Galleries

The Springfield Art Museum’s permanent collection contains over 10,000 objects in nearly all media. The works selected for this exhibition were chosen for their ability to reveal the ways in which artists respond to and reveal our cultural identity as Americans. But it is also important to note that the choice to collect these works (why these and not others?), and the decision to exhibit them also presents a sub-narrative revealing a construct of American identity as created by the Museum’s former and current staff.  

The exhibition presents a chronological installation to track shifts in ideas of representation over time but is limited by existing gaps in the collection. There is no singular or fixed American identity. American art and history is shaped by multiple perspectives, stories, and experiences, and as such, this exhibition aims to present a multiplicity of views within the wider context of historical moments. The exhibition includes 75 works from as wide an array of artistic voices as possible within our current collection, including even more works by women, people of color, Native Americans, and LGBTQ+ communities.

This exhibit includes major work by George Caleb Bingham, Asher B. Durand, Jackson Pollock, Wayne Thiebaud, and Alison Saar, among many others.

Exhibit Resources

Tour the Virtual Exhibition 

View the Exhibition Photo Album

Explore Springfield Landscapeone of the earliest known paintings of Springfield, MO - recently conserved and on view now!

Program Details

Slow-Viewing with Shauna LeAnn Smith
Watershield by Emmi Whitehorse
Thursday, April 18, 2024, 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM.

Cruisin' Together by Glyneisha Johnson
Thursday, June 27, 2024, 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM.

Slow Viewing is a supportive practice for anyone who wants to develop their skills of interpretation, observation, and discussing art. Guests spend an hour carefully observing and speaking about the works on view, resulting in a deeper understanding of how they and others relate to the artwork and to each other. This program is facilitated by artist Shauna LeAnn Smith. This program is free, but space in-gallery is limited so pre-registration is required.

Guided Tours 
Available Upon Request

Request your own guided group tour, free of charge, by contacting the Museum. There is no minimum group number required to schedule a tour. Weekday and weekend tours are available. Tours generally last one hour.

  1. Exhibit Support

The 2024 Exhibition Season is presented by Friends of the Springfield Art Museum, Inc.