The Smithsonian is one of the world’s largest and most well-known museum complexes. With 19 museums and a zoo, it houses an extremely wide collection of over 150 million scientific, historic, and art objects—and that number continues to grow. Recently, the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) gained a large acquisition of rare photos and objects that completely transformed its holdings, significantly enhancing the diversity of its collection of early American photography.
The new addition comprises 286 objects from the 1840s to the mid-1920s that are split into three primary groupings. The first consists of works produced by early African American daguerreotypists James P. Ball, Glenalvin Goodridge, and Augustus Washington. Between them, they have only