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Founded in 1935, Tacoma Art Museum began collecting artwork in 1963. Since then, it has built a permanent collection of artwork by international, national, and regional artists. The museum’s rich collection contains more than 3,500 works, with an emphasis on art by Northwest artists, one of the finest collections of Japanese woodblock prints on the West Coast, and the largest, most comprehensive public collection of glass art by Tacoma native Dale Chihuly. The collection also includes key holdings in nineteenth-century European and twentieth-century American art. Learn more about the permanent collection.
In August 2009, Tacoma Art Museum received a Museums for America (MFA) grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to increase information related to its collection and make it accessible online. Over the next two years, the museum will replace its outdated collection management system with one that will enable the museum to put information about the works in its collection online, creating an important resource for the public.
Tacoma Art Museum presents works of art to achieve a dynamic balance of exhibitions from historic to contemporary periods. Annually, Tacoma Art Museum presents eight to ten imaginatively paired exhibitions, often placing Northwest artists alongside a continuum of historically important artists.
Over the past several years, Tacoma Art Museum has seen a notable surge in catalogue publications, nationally traveling exhibitions, and national and international loans of art. The museum has published ten catalogues in conjunction with museum-curated exhibitions since 2003, including the Northwest Biennial—a rare open submission opportunity offering a strong critical analysis of the region’s contemporary art production.