The National Academy is an honorary association of American artists with a museum and a school of fine arts. Founded in 1825 as the National Academy of Design by such leading artists as Samuel F. B. Morse, Asher B. Durand, and Thomas Cole to "promote the fine arts in America through instruction and exhibition," the Academy continues to play a critical role in preserving and fostering the visual arts. Through a program of exceptional exhibitions in the Museum and quality instruction in the School of Fine Arts, the Academy serves as a link to the art of our past and a bridge to that of the future.
The Academicians of the National Academy are professional artists who are elected to membership by their peers. Members both past and present include many of the country's leading painters, sculptors, architects, and printmakers. Notable among them are Frederic E. Church, Richard Diebenkorn, Thomas Eakins, Helen Frankenthaler, Frank Gehry, Horatio Greenough, Winslow Homer, Jasper Johns, Maya Lin, I. M. Pei, Robert Rauschenberg, John Singer Sargent, Frank Lloyd Wright.
The Academy houses one of the largest public collections of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American art in the country. It comprises over seven thousand works in almost every artistic style of the past two centuries, from the linear portraiture of the Federal period and the naturalistic landscapes of the Hudson River School to studies of light and atmosphere that inform Tonalism and American Impressionism; from the gritty realism of the Ashcan movement to the modernist movements of Fauvism, abstraction, and photo- and magic-realism. Masterworks in these and other styles have come into the Academy's collection mainly as gifts from newly elected National Academicians in compliance with membership requirements, thereby continually enriching the collection.
The fundamental mission of the Academy has never changed-the annual exhibitions have been held every year since 1826; the School of Fine Arts has functioned almost without interruption since that date; and, in recognition of the ever-changing character of American art, over 2,000 artists have been honored with election.
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