The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts has collected American art since it opened in 1930. Through the years, the Museum has acquired both individual works and collections that have made its American holdings among the most comprehensive in the Southeastern US. Many aspects of American art are always on view at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts from Colonial period portraiture to contemporary 21st-century American expressions of visual creativity in most every medium. Highlights of the collection are available by using the title above as a link.
The Museum’s collection holds a number of important American works on paper including watercolors, drawings, and prints from the 20th and 21st centuries. Highlights of the collection include watercolors by Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, Charles Demuth, and John Marin. Modern prints include works by George Bellows, Thomas Hart Benton, Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, Josef Albers, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Motherwell, and Frank Stella. Highlights of the collection are available by using the title above as a link.
The southeastern United States and Alabama have provided art history with a wealth of examples demonstrating the varied forms that human creativity can take. From drawings by the self-taught painter and draftsman Bill Traylor to the evocative interpretations of the local landscape by J. Kelly Fitzpatrick, the Museum preserves and exhibits excellent examples of regional art from the 1930s to the present day. Highlights of the Museum’s collection of works by Southeastern Regional Artists, with particular emphasis on artists from the State of Alabama, can be accessed by using the title above as a link..
The MMFA has one of the finest collections and facilities for the study of works on paper of any municipal museum in the country. The Museum holds woodcuts, etchings, engravings, and other multiples by artists from the 15th to the 19th century as part of its European master print collection. The Weil Graphic Arts Study Center, built in 1998, is named in honor of Mr. Adolph “Bucks” Weil, Jr., the collection’s founding patron and a connoisseur of European prints made before 1900.
Many of the outstanding printmakers of art history are represented in the Museum’s collection. The collection includes examples by the world’s most respected practitioners: 15th-century engravers such as Martin Schongauer and Albrecht Dürer, over 90 works by Rembrandt van Rijn, as well as etchings by Canaletto and Callot, aquatints by Goya, and lithographs by Whistler. The array of printmaking techniques presents the rich heritage of this art form in Western culture. Highlights of the collection are available by using the title above as a link.
The Museum’s collection of works by Self-Taught and Folk Artists was founded with the gift of thirty drawings by the Montgomery artist Bill Traylor from Charles and Eugenia Shannon in 1982. It was in this same year that the work of this group of artists, primarily active in the mid-to-late 20th century, came to prominence, and their work began to be collected and interpreted within the larger canon of American art. Subsequently the Museum has acquired a substantial collection of work by self-taught artists from both the State of Alabama and the Southeastern U.S. Highlights of the collection are available by using the title above as a link.
A significant portion of the MMFA photography collection reflects the 20th-century photography tradition of the American Southeast. William Christenberry, William Eggleston, and Clarence Laughlin are representatives of this flourishing tradition. The collection also includes photographs by Lewis Hine, Eudora Welty, Walker Evans, Michael McKenna, Rudy Burkhardt, and William Wegman. The great portrait photographer, Yousuf Karsh, is represented by 100 portraits of great figures of the 20th century. Highlights of the collection are available by using the title above as a link.
The MMFA’s American art glass collection is a small, but focused group of objects that were made in the United States between the end of the 19th century and the 1920s, and it reflects the aesthetics of that period of time. The best pieces in the collection are by the Tiffany Studios, Steuben Glass, The Quezal Art Glass Company, and the studio of Victor Durand. Highlights of the collection are available by using the title above as a link.
The Museum began collecting American Studio Art glass in 1998. The collection is featured architecturally in the Museum’s facility within the large, sky-lit Weil Atrium Gallery that is devoted to its ongoing installation. When the Museum expanded into the Lowder Gallery in 2006 a glass window was commissioned from Seattle artist Cappy Thompson as a key element of this expansion. Since the collection was established, the MMFA has worked to acquire representative examples by the most important American Studio Glass artists. The Weil Atrium houses examples by artists such as Lino Tagilapietra, Dale Chihuly, William Morris, Stephen Rolfe Powell, and many others. This growing collection adds significantly to the architectural impact and beauty of the interior environment of the Museum, and represents an important movement in twentieth- and twenty-first-century American art. Highlights of the collection are available by using the title above as a link.
The Museum’s Decorative Arts Gallery, adjacent to the Museum’s lakeside terrace, houses two beautiful installations of historical porcelain. An outstanding survey of First Period Worcester porcelain, which has been collected and treasured since its first appearance in mid-18th century England is permanently installed. The Loeb Collection, generously supported by Mr. and Mrs. James L. Loeb since 1990, focuses on the First Period of Worcester production, between 1751 and 1783. Also, the Decorative Arts Gallery features a display of Chinese Export Porcelain, a gift of the Estate of William Francis McCall, Jr. in 1991. Highlights of the collection are available by using the title above as a link.
The MMFA collection holds examples of the traditional arts of Africa that were produced by makers from many ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa during the twentieth century. Masks, figurative sculpture, stools and chairs, textiles, and a variety of other objects provide vivid evidence of the lives and diverse religious beliefs of the people who made and used them.
Many of the cultural traditions for which these objects were created no longer exist or have changed significantly as people now choose to live lives impacted by national and international political structure, western-style educational systems, and conversion to religions such as Christianity or Islam. While art could be seen as a static display on some occasions, in most instances it would have been part of a larger multi-media event that involved processions, music, and dance. Highlights from this collection are available by using the title above as a link.