Today, the Chazen Museum of Art’s permanent collection consists of over 24,000 works of different cultures, periods, and mediums used in teaching by UW–Madison faculty from a variety of disciplines. A “collection of collections,” the museum’s holdings include a number of notable collections formed by private collectors and donated as a whole to the museum. These include especially the Lane Collection of American mid-twentieth century sculpture and drawings by sculptors that includes important works and preparatory material by David Smith, Louise Nevelson, Julio Gonzales, and Pablo Picasso; the Hollaender Collection of CoBrA paintings; and the Hootkin Collection of contemporary figurative ceramics. Find more information on these and other collections here.
While a portion of the collection is on view in the Chazen’s galleries and often in our exhibitions, classes and individuals can make an appointment to see works that are currently off view in the Object Study Room or Prints and Drawings Study Room; information on how to make an appointment and parameters for use is here. To search the collection by media, geography, date, artist, or even color, access the entire collection here.
The Chazen, like many other museums, adds artwork to its collection in various ways, but primarily through purchases or gifts donated by private individuals. As an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums, the Chazen follows a selective policy for art acquisitions, which supports our mission as a teaching institution and ensures thoughtful and dynamic growth of the permanent collection. Each artwork offered to the museum or considered for purchase is put through a rigorous vetting process by curatorial staff and is approved by the Chazen Museum of Art Accessions Committee, which is composed of UW–Madison faculty and Chazen Museum of Art Advisory Council members. All purchases are funded by individuals and endowments, rather than the museum’s annual budget or through state funding. In addition to an evaluation of the artwork and an assessment of whether the provenance (the ownership history) of the artwork meets legal and professional standards, the Chazen must also take into account the costs of storing, caring for, and activating these objects in perpetuity. Once an artwork joins the museum’s collection, staff act as stewards, making sure that it is well preserved and accessible to the public through temporary exhibitions, gallery installations, the museum’s online database, and for viewing by appointment in the museum’s study rooms. Information about donating artwork to the museum’s collection or giving a financial gift to support the care and display of the museum’s collection can be found here.