The Missoula Art Museum collects, preserves, exhibits and researches art that is relevant to the culture of the American West with an emphasis on contemporary Montana artists.
- Adopted by the MAM Board of Directors and Collection Committee, October 2006
The beginnings of the Missoula Art Museum Permanent Collection date back to 1973 when the Missoula Festival of the Arts purchased an artwork each from Montana masters Walter Hook, Gennie DeWeese and Jessie Wilber. The Festival of the Arts would also spearhead the community efforts to raise funds to establish the Missoula Museum of the Arts in Missoula’s Carnegie Library. The museum doors opened for the first time in 1975 as a Missoula County run organization.
MISSOULA COUNTY ART COLLECTION: 1973 - 1994
The Missoula Museum of the Arts’ exhibition planning and art collection continued to expand and thrive over the next twenty years. In 1995 the museum converted to an independent non-profit called the Art Museum of Missoula, today’s Missoula Art Museum. The 192 artworks collected between 1973 and 1994 remain the property of Missoula County cared for and presented to the public by MAM.
These original collected works reflect the museum's long-standing commitment to supporting Montana artists that pursue contemporary themes and modes of expression. A short list of the Missoula County Collection includes the art of Nancy Erickson, Bob and Gennie DeWeese, Rudy Autio, George Gogas, Ted Waddell, Jesse Wilber, Winnie Lloyd, Dana Boussard, Leslie Stavern Millar, and many other artists today considered well-established masters.
MAM continues its partnership with the county by assisting with the care and management of other County-owned artworks, including the Courthouse’s historic Paxson murals that were recently professionally removed and securely stored for the Courthouse’s multi-year renovation and restoration project.
MAM PERMANENT COLLECTION: 1995 - PRESENT
Since MAM’s move to non-profit status in 1995 over 1,500 artworks have been added to the MAM Permanent Collection. The Permanent Collection continues to grow thanks to the humbling generosity of the community. MAM does not budget dollars for collecting works, only for its care and exhibition, so the museum depends on the donations of artists and collectors to secure these important cultural items for future generations. It goes without saying that the MAM Permanent Collection is truly a part of the community cared for and held in trust by the Missoula Art Museum.
CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN INDIAN ART COLLECTION
An outstanding feature of the MAM Permanent Collection is the Contemporary American Indian Art Collection. To quote a member of the collection, Corwin Clairmont: “Contemporary art captures the current values, politics, beauty and ugliness found in our lives. Today’s modern Indian artists have important statements to be made and a rich culture to draw from, emanating from over 10,000 year s of living on the North American continent.” In this spirit, MAM has built a collection of over 130 works by a growing group of fabulously talented artists and resulting in one of the largest bodies of contemporary American Indian art in the United States. Such luminaries as Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Fritz Scholder, George Longfish, Ernie Pepion, Kevin Red Star, Kay WalkingStick, and Melanie Yazzie are just a few of the incredible artists found in the CAIAC.
MAM is responsible for nearly 1,800 artworks by over 100 artists representing the best of this region's contemporary art. Within the collection you will find sculpture, ceramic, and glass works, a wide range of print and photography, over 300 Hmong textiles, paintings of various media, and video. The MAM Permanent Collection is representative of the hard working and talented people that make up our region’s vibrant and diverse arts community.
VIEWING THE MAM PERMANENT COLLECTION
Exhibits: MAM is committed to showing off this incredible art collection by always having an exhibition of collection artworks on view. Check out our list of exhibitions to see what's on view now and coming soon. MAM's traveling exhibitions often feature the collections as well.
Database: MAM provides additional access through an online database to which new items are added regularly. Perusing the database is a great way to familiarize yourself with generations of the area’s artistic talent.
Montana Connections: With support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Cultural Trust, MAM has initiated Montana Connections, a special education program that explores the work of collection artists through images, essays, interviews and curriculum. See the list below for available subjects.