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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 regional, national, and international artists. The museum’s rich collection contains more than 4,400 works, with an emphasis on art by Northwest artists, a notable collection of Japanese woodblock prints, and the 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.
Though the entire collection is not permanently on view at the museum, selected works from the collection are always on view as part of various exhibitions and installations. If you are interested in a specific work from the collection, please contact us when planning your visit to determine whether or not it is currently on view.
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 Over the next two years, the museum will replace its outdated collection management system with one that will enable the museum to put information about the works in its collection online, creating an important resource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. Learn more about the museum's collection goals by reading our 10-Year Collection Plan. Download the plan here. (PDF, file size 890 KB)
To represent the broad diversity of aesthetic expression in the region, the museum’s Board of Trustees adopted a mission statement in 1993 that committed the museum to building a collection of works of art by the Northwest’s most significant artists. Since then, the museum’s collection of Northwest art has grown substantially and includes works by Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Guy Anderson, Jacob Lawrence, Marie Watt, and Gaylen Hansen, among others.
A visitor favorite is Leroy, the Big Pup, Northwest artist Scott Fife’s monumental puppy made from archival cardboard, glue, and wood screws. Although Leroy is moved around the building, he can often be found in the lobby, greeting visitors as they enter the museum. Leroy was originally created for the 2004 retrospective exhibition of Fife’s work at Tacoma Art Museum, Scott Fife.
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Dale Chihuly Glass Collection
One of the most prominent collections in the museum is the Dale Chihuly glass collection. As a gift to the region, Dale Chihuly donated a retrospective collection of glass in honor of his parents, Viola and George, and his brother, George W. Chihuly. Approximately forty of these works are featured in a long-term installation in the museum. In 2006, Dale Chihuly donated the installation Ma Chihuly’s Floats, a collection of thirty-nine works from the Niijima Floats series, in honor of his mother. Tacoma Art Museum’s collection now includes 110 works by Chihuly.
Studio Glass Collection
The studio glass movement, which is nearly synonymous with the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, is represented in the museum’s collection by a variety of significant works. The museum’s glass collection is anchored by Ann Gould Hauberg’s promised gift of more than 130 works. As one of the founders of the Pilchuck Glass School, Hauberg’s collection charts the development of the early years of Pilchuck with an emphasis on women artists
The Marioni Family Gift
Paul Marioni, one of the nation’s foremost innovators in glass art, gifted his collection of nearly 400 artworks to Tacoma Art Museum. The Paul Marioni Glass Collection traces the evolution of the Studio Glass Movement through Paul’s engagement with the Pilchuck Glass School, where he taught from 1974 through 1988. The core of the collection focuses on more than 70 works by Paul Marioni that document his evolution as one of the most important artists working with glass.
Paul’s collection also includes works by internationally recognized artists such as Sonja Blomdahl, Dale Chihuly, Richard Marquis, Lino Tagliapietra, and Cappy Thompson. The collection features more than 90 glass goblets and eight large-scale vessel forms by Dante Marioni, tracing his development from a beginning glassblower learning the Venetian tradition to one of the nation’s foremost artists working in glass.
The acquisition of the Paul Marioni Glass Collection, coupled with the gifts from Dale Chihuly and the promised gift of the Anne Gould Hauberg Collection, will bring the total number of studio glass works in Tacoma Art Museum’s permanent collection to nearly 900. The museum’s collection will record the early years of the Pilchuck Glass School. Tacoma Art Museum is proud to be the repository of a body of artwork that preserves and illustrates the history of how the Northwest came to be a world-renowned center for glass art.
The Marioni Family: Radical Experimentations in Glass and Jewelry showcases much of this collection. The exhibition is on view at Tacoma Art Museum from June 9 – September 23, 2012. more
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Tacoma Art Museum holds an important collection of studio art jewelry by Northwest artists. The collection includes key works by Mary Lee Hu, Ken Cory, Ron Ho, Ramona Solberg, Kiff Slemmons, and Nancy Worden.
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Works on paper comprise the single largest concentration of the museum’s permanent collection. There are nearly 1,900 prints in the collection, including more than 300 Japanese woodblock prints, an extensive group of the works promoted by the Associated American Artists print club, and the Beta Press archive. The museum’s collection also includes works by artists of international stature, such as Allan D’Arcangelo, Robert Indiana, Vito Acconci, Adolph Gottlieb, Ellsworth Kelly, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, and Ed Ruscha. In addition, the museum has made a concerted effort to collect works on paper by prominent Northwest artists such as John Buck, Barbara Robertson, Ross Palmer Beecher, Michael Ehle, Jeffry Mitchell, Roger Shimomura, Shirley Scheier, Michael Spafford, Dennis Evans, and Nancy Mee, among others.
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The notable collection of Japanese woodblock prints at Tacoma Art Museum is largely the gift of a single collector, Constance R. Lyon (née Rice). Dr. Roger Keyes, one of the world’s foremost experts on ukiyo-e, helped Lyon shape her collection. The Lyon collection today consists of 266 ukiyo-e prints, and is regarded as a gem in the museum’s collection.
In 2006, Al and Betsy Buck added to the museum’s collection by donating fifty-two Japanese woodblock prints dating from the late eighteenth-century to the early twentieth-century. Al Buck is a direct descendant of Alfred E. Buck, U.S. ambassador to Japan from 1898 to 1902. Despite their age, the prints are in nearly pristine condition because the family carefully stored them for more than a century.
The majority of the prints in the museum collection are from a genre called ukiyo-e, which means, "pictures of the floating world." The genre was produced between the seventeenth and the twentieth centuries and features motifs of landscapes, the theater, and city life.
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More than forty paintings and drawings from the estate of Mr. and Mrs. W. Hilding Lindberg were bequeathed to Tacoma Art Museum in 1983. The Lindberg Collection is comprised primarily of French and German paintings from the second half of the nineteenth century and includes works by such notable artists as Eugène Louis Boudin, Edgar Hilaire Degas, Henri Fantin-Latour, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Adolf Schreyer, and Karl Spitzweg. Among these are visitor favorites such as Renoir’s oil painting Heads of Two Young Girls [Têtes de deux jeunes filles], also known as The Two Sisters [Les Deux Soeurs], and Degas’ Dancers, a fan-shaped painting on silk. In 1995, the museum acquired two of Degas’ bronze sculptures of dancers to complement the fan painting.
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Tacoma Art Museum is a member of the Washington Art Consortium, which jointly owns and maintains 272 works on paper by leading American artists.
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Tacoma Art Museum is proud to announce a major donation by Erivan and Helga Haub and family of 280 major works of American Western Art along with a contribution for a new 15,000 square foot gallery and lobby expansion to house the collection, as well as endowment funds for the care of the collection.
The new expansion will be designed by award-winning architect, Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects, who is also the architect for the museum’s plaza redesign project. This will be Tom Kundig’s first completed museum project, set to open in spring 2014.
“We are extremely grateful to the Haub family for this extraordinary gift, the largest in the museum’s 75-year history,” said Stephanie A. Stebich, Director of Tacoma Art Museum. “The 280 works from noted artists will make our museum a key destination to view American Western Art.”
This significant donation of iconic works will transform Tacoma Art Museum into one of the leading museums in the country featuring American Western Art. The museum will be the only Pacific Northwest institution to hold a collection of this caliber, and in turn will provide an entirely new dimension of cultural offerings to Tacoma as well as the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest.