All museums have permanent collections. But what does that really mean? The pieces in a museum’s permanent collection are just that - they are a collection of pieces the museum has acquired and intend to keep. What I have learned is that permanent collections are vital to museums for a variety of reasons. They allow the organization to form goals and collecting strategies to better serve the community in a unique and stimulating way.
Although many may not realize this, the Asheville Art Museum’s Permanent Collection actually consists of more than 2,500 works of art and nearly 5,000 architectural drawings! Like most museums, though, we have a limited amount of space to show our awesome collection in the galleries. We currently are only able to show about 3 percent of our entire collection. In our exhibition, Looking Back: Celebrating 60 Years of Collecting at the Asheville Art Museum, guests are able to see how diverse our Permanent Collection really is. The even more exciting part is you are likely to see something new in the galleries every time you visit because our Executive Director and curators are always rearranging and adding new pieces.
The Asheville Art Museum is dedicated to strategic collecting and considers these goals with each art acquisition. As a whole, the Museum has focused its expertise on 20th and 21st Century American art. It also seeks to include works from local artists and works of significance to Western North Carolina’s culture such as Studio Craft, Black Mountain College and Cherokee artists. We have important photographic pieces of our region and nationwide as well as contemporary photography. Our holdings also include large sculptures, Outsider Art and pieces reflective of the local community.
Many of the pieces in the Permanent Collection are gifts from artists or the families of artists who would like to continue the legacy of the artist and the work. Others are purchased through funds given by gracious benefactors and many are purchased by the Museum or through Museum groups such as the Collector’s Circle and Art Nouveaux.
Now that you know a little more about our Permanent Collection, come experience it in the galleries or view even more at once in our online archive. We also have a Work of the Week featuring information about a different piece from the Permanent Collection each week. We are very proud of our collection and love sharing it with the public! We also thank everyone who has contributed to our growing collection!