At the Worcester Art Museum, we strive to develop a collection that bolsters our institution’s mission: connecting people, communities, and cultures through the experience of art. While upholding a commitment to acquiring exceptional, high quality works, we seek out objects that assert our commitment to developing an encyclopedic museum for the twenty-first century. To this end, we wish to expand the diversity of our holdings in terms of geographic and historic origins, media, cultural background, and identity of the artist.
We are particularly interested in acquiring art that reveals the intersections between cultures. Such objects embody how aesthetic styles, techniques, values, and subjects are conveyed across national, ethnic, and cultural lines; they also serve as important links as we introduce a narrative in our galleries that emphasizes context and cultural exchange. Acknowledging the restrictions for display implicit with regards to certain media, the objects we acquire are added to the collection for the enhanced experience and access of our visitors—children, adults, families, people with disabilities, academic communities, and museum professionals—and are thus always intended for at least periodic display.
As we reassert our identity as an encyclopedic museum, we also strengthen our commitment to the areas of our collection that distinguish us among our peer institutions: early American paintings, Japanese ukiyo-e prints, arms and armor, European Old Master paintings, and objects from ancient Antioch, among others. In this manner, we steward the collections created by our predecessors and work towards infusing them with greater diversity.
In the Worcester Art Museum Collections Search you will find a large and growing selection of objects from the Museum's encyclopedic holdings, from ancient cultures through modern and contemporary art, including many works rarely on view. What is currently represented in our Collection Search is only a fraction of our permanent collection. The output is constantly growing as record files are updated and objects are photographed in order to be ready for public display. In addition to viewing organized collections, you may do a simple keyword search, or explore a variety of advanced search options.
Early American Painting
Early American Paintings in the Worcester Art Museum online gallery includes biographies of twenty artists, detailed entries on fifty-three paintings, and checklist information on twenty-four additional works. Each of the seventy-seven works is illustrated. This catalogue encompasses all of the paintings in the museum's collection that were created prior to 1830 by artists who were either born or active in America, including works painted abroad by those artists.
The Worcester Art Museum Library, founded in 1909 as a non-circulating bibliographic resource dedicated to the history of art, reflects the collection strengths of the Worcester Art Museum.