The Vietnam Veterans Art Group formed in Chicago in 1981. One year later, the group mounted its first exhibit of veteran artwork entitled “Reflexes and Reflections.” The exhibit toured museums and galleries nationwide.
The overwhelming emotional response to the work, along with an increasing amount of contributions by artists, led to the official establishment of a permanent museum. Upon viewing the collection, Mayor Richard Daley was so personally moved that he allocated a permanent building to house the collection.
The National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum opened its doors at the original location at 1801 S. Indiana Avenue in 1996.
Since 2003, the museum has broadened its mission to include art by veterans of all wars. In 2010, the word Vietnam was dropped the from andwe became the National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM). Today, the NVAM houses more than 2,500 works of art, including paintings, photography, sculpture, poetry and music. All works in the Museum’s permanent collection were created by more than 255 artists who are veterans of American conflicts. The artwork showcased at the museum provide unique viewpoint on the controversial subject of war to all. It is a tenuous and reflective balance of beauty and horror, giving unique insight into the psyche of combat veterans and consequential hindsight war leaves on its survivors.