Since its founding in 1913, the Memorial Art Gallery’s collection has grown from its first acquisition, the gift of a lappet of lace, to a holding of more than 12,000 works of art. Representing cultures from around the world and across millennia, the permanent collection is renowned for its breadth and its quality.
Visitors are frequently surprised to find classic examples at every turn. Three paintings by Monet, a Rembrandt portrait, and a Chinese Guanyin sculpture are among the treasures in the European and Asian galleries, while Winslow Homer’s painting of his studio at Prout’s Neck, Maine, Thomas Hart Benton’s view of a Texas boomtown and a major collection of sculptures by Gaston Lachaise are but a sampling from the American collection. Changing exhibitions in the Lockhart Gallery showcase prints and drawings from the extensive collection of works on paper.
Recent acquisitions include a dramatic 17th-century Italian Baroque painting, The Entombment, by Luca Giordano, a celebrated view of the Erie Canal by 19th-century painter George Harvey and a beautifully decorated suit of etched armor made in Germany in the 16th century.
Three newly reinstalled galleries opened to the public in late 2009. On the first floor, the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas brings together intriguing objects created for both ceremonial and everyday use. On the second floor, the Helen H. Berkeley Gallery of Ancient Art showcases Greek, Etruscan and Roman works, including a lavishly decorated pair of 2,000-year-old Egyptian coffins; just a few steps away, At the Crossroads brings together works from the ancient Middle East and the Islamic world, including pieces never before on view.
Reflecting the strong craft tradition of upstate New York, exciting works by Rochester-based artists Wendell Castle and Albert Paley are always on view. Important ceramists, including Stephen Merritt, Wayne Higby and Anne Currier, are represented as well.
Check our calendar listing of collection and exhibition tours!
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