The permanent collection of the Huntsville Museum of Art is comprised nearly 3,000 objects, primarily focused on 19th and 20th century American art with an emphasis on art from the Southeast. African, Asian, and European art, from cultures influential on American art, is the Museum’s secondary collecting focus.
The collection holds some 400 works on paper by American artists such as James McNeill Whistler, Reginald Marsh, John Sloan, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol. These works have allowed the Museum to provide its community first-hand access to original works of art by leading 20th century masters.
Regional artists are well represented in the collection. American artists with Alabama ties include Richmond Burton, William Christenberry, Gerald Hayes, Nall Hollis, David Parrish and Stephen Rolfe Powell. The Museum’s commitment to building a regionally significant collection is also affirmed by the growth of its Southern photography collection, which now includes over 200 prints, and by regular acquisitions from the recurring Red Clay Survey and Encounters exhibitions, featuring work by regional contemporary artists.
Since 1998, the Museum has added nearly 70 contemporary works in wood, glass, metal, clay and fiber to the collection. Regionally and nationally significant American artists within this collection include Dale Chihuly, William Morris, Josh Simpson, Rosanne Somerson, Rude Osolnik, Philip Moulthrop, and Pam Studstill.
In 2008, the Museum acquired the prestigious Sellars Collection of Art by American Women, a landmark gathering of over 400 paintings, drawings and sculptures that heralds the achievements of more than 250 American women artists primarily active between 1850 and 1940. While the names of many may now be unfamiliar, in their time these artists exhibited alongside their male counterparts, received accolades and awards, and pioneered the way for those who would follow. Today, art historians are rediscovering their contributions and reestablishing their rightful place in the expanding narrative of American art.
An eclectic holding of more than 600 works in various media form the remainder of the collection. These works—which include a unique assembly of sterling silver animals created by the luxury Italian jewelry firm of Buccellati; European and Japanese prints; Japanese oban nishiki-e and netsuke; Chinese snuff bottles; and carved African objects—are valuable community resources that affirm the artistic heritage of specialized audiences, broaden general cultural awareness, teach basic art principles, and provide context for American achievements in the arts.