The records pertain to the administration of David W. Scott, director, 1965-1968, Robert Tyler Davis, interim director, 1969, and Joshua C. Taylor, director, 1970- . Some records, most noticeably correspondence with Smithsonian Art Commission members, have been pulled up into the files from previous administrations.
Also included are Smithsonian Art Commission and National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA) Commission reports, and correspondence with Commission members, 1908-1972; NCFA fiscal material; memoranda between NCFA staff; NCFA policies and procedures; correspondence with Smithsonian administrators; exhibition material; gifts and purchases; renovation of the old Patent Office Building; correspondence with professional organizations; correspondence with state, local, and private art galleries; correspondence with universities concerning art programs and exhibits; and correspondence with federal agencies and foreign art museums. Projects and museums supported by NCFA, or responsible to NCFA, and documented in these records include the Barney Studio House; Bicentennial Inventory of American Painting; Cooper Union Museum; Renwick Gallery; and the White House art program seminars.
Important correspondents, organizations, and art museums, whose material appears in the records include the American Federation of Art, Archives of American Art, Adelyn D. Breeskin, Alexander Calder, Edith Halpert (Downtown Gallery), William H. Holmes, Harry Lowe, Stanton MacDonald-Wright, Paul Manship, National Council on the Arts, National Gallery of Art, George Rickey, and S. Dillon Ripley.
The index card file only partially indexes the records of the Central Files and is arranged alphabetically by name. An asterisk before a folder denotes that the folder contains art catalogs, pamphlets, or photographs of art work.