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A Question of When: Selections from the Permanent Collection


December 6

Exhibition overview

This exhibition, like nearly all aspects of daily life, changed significantly as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe. Originally scheduled as a showcase of recent acquisitions, the exhibition framework evolved with the crisis to reflect both the strangeness of our new reality and the unique role of art in times of change. Drawn from our permanent collection, the artworks presented here encompass 100 years of artmaking across a variety of media. Some works evoke the isolation of social distancing through their imagery. Others demonstrate how artists reflect larger societal shifts through abstraction and the dissolution of form. Taken together, the selection is a response to our changing world and a visual representation of the collective grief and ongoing sense of hope we all feel.

Exhibiting our permanent collection feels appropriate on the heels of a stay-at-home measure. Spurred by funding cuts and decreased access to artists and artworks, many museums will undoubtedly look inward and showcase a larger percentage of their collection over the coming years. As a museum in the public trust, our collection has always been an important community resource for research, scholarship, and artistic inspiration. We have been a collecting institution since our early years as an art center. We continue to grow our holdings through generous gifts and strategic purchases that allow us to tell a more complete story of the history of art. Though this selection represents a small fraction of our nearly 700 artworks, it illustrates the breadth of our holdings and highlights our mission to preserve, interpret, and share diverse artworks and artists from the past 150 years of visual culture.