Collected. Propositions on the Permanent Collection presented fourteen takes on the permanent collection of The Studio Museum in Harlem. This set of exhibitions, which includes over two hundred works in a wide range of media, is intended to give multiple perspectives and views on the art of which this Museum is so proud to be the guardian. While a chronological approach allows us to understand how art develops over time and a thematic one helps us to see the relationships between artists, this set of exhibitions takes, in some cases, idiosyncratic approaches to investigating, presenting and analyzing the works of art that the Museum has collected over the last forty years.
Founded in 1968, the Studio Museum began with a mission to present the work of African-American artists and artifacts of the African diaspora. In the Museum’s early history the mandate to collect was strong, with the idea that for the Studio Museum to have a place in the museum world it had to establish a permanent collection. The Museum was very fortunate to have the vision of the founding directors and curators, as well as the generosity of many artists and donors, with which to begin a collection that documents the achievements of artists of African descent.
Over the years there has also been a strategic focus on acquiring works by artists in our exhibitions and from our Artist-in-Residence program. Collected is significant because it charts this history of the Museum. It is an important record of our mission, from New Additions: Recently Acquired Works on Paper, which takes a sweeping look at prints, photographs, collages and drawings new to our collection; to A Family Affair, which looks at the conscious and coincidental relationships between artists who share not only love of art, but also family bonds; to the Highlight sections, each of which focuses on a singular artist or work of art, allowing an in-depth investigation of its subject and how the work relates to the collection.
Organized by the curatorial team, Collected gives us an opportunity for reflection on the great treasures that we steward, and we hope it will prompt a wonderful discussion about art made now and history as seen through the works. Also, it is always wonderful to present works that are not permanently on view. We hope that long-time friends of the Museum will see some old favorites. And we hope that those new to the Museum will see works that will make you want to continue to visit in the years to come. Throughout the Museum’s history we have proudly shown the collection and have been honored to loan works around the country and the world. We are thrilled that at this moment we can highlight our collection and prompt a new era of exploration and presentation.