The Permanent Collection of the Memorial Art Gallery – A Rochester Treasure
Since its founding in 1913, the Memorial Art Gallery’s collection has grown to 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

Winslow Homer - Monet - Rembrandt
L to R: Winslow Homer, The Artist’s Studio in an Afternoon Fog, 1894
Claude Monet, Towing a Boat, Honfleur, 1864 
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn,  Portrait of a Young Man in an Armchair ca. 1660

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On the first floor, the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas gallery brings together objects created for both ceremonial and everyday use, including a major work by Yoruba sculptor, Olowe of Ise. The collection of American art ranges from the colonial period to the present and includes 19th & 20th century masterpieces of American landscape and realist painting, with important works by Asher B. Durand, Winslow Homer, and Lily Martin Spencer; early 20th-century works of realism and modernism, including masterpieces by Thomas Hart Benton, Elizabeth Catlett, Stuart Davis, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, and John Sloan; a major collection of sculptures by Gaston Lachaise; and late-20th century masterworks by Josef Albers, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Isamu Noguchi and Jackson Pollock. MAG’s folk and decorative arts gallery include early Rochester-area portraits by itinerant artists, vernacular sculpture, trade signs and weathervanes, and a Grandma Moses landscape, while works of contemporary craft art are exhibited in cases nearby.

Under director Jonathan Binstock, who started in 2014, the collection of modern and contemporary art has grown significantly, with new acquisitions by such artists as Nick Cave, George Condo, Beauford Delaney, Monir Farmanfarmaian, Hung Liu, Grayson Perry, Judith Schaechter and Mickalene Thomas. These new acquisitions reflect MAG’s dedication to extending historical and aesthetic narratives already present in the collection, and to enhancing the representation of minority and women artists. A major new initiative, Media Arts Watch, highlights rotating exhibitions of newly acquired media art, including works by Charles Atlas, Nam June Paik, Sondra Perry, and Bill Viola.

On the second floor, the Helen H. Berkeley Gallery of Ancient Art showcases Greek, Etruscan, Roman, and Egyptian works. One highlight is an important set of Egyptian coffins made for the nobleman Pa-debehu-Aset. Just a few steps away, the At the Crossroads gallery brings together works from the ancient Middle East and the Islamic world. The nearby Asian Art gallery showcases paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts of all eras, including a rotating selection of works on paper.

The medieval gallery includes textiles, sculpture, painting, and metalwork from European Christendom; a video kiosk explores the relationships between medieval art and music. Newly conserved tapestries are a highlight of the Renaissance Gallery, and the adjacent Fountain Court features an Italian Baroque organ (on loan from the Eastman School of Music), surrounded by paintings and sculpture from the period, including van Dyck, El Greco, and Luca Giordano. The 17th-century gallery showcases Old Master painting and decorative arts from The Netherlands and Flanders; many come from the private collection of Kodak founder George Eastman. The 18th-century collection is particularly strong in British and French portraiture, while the 19th-century gallery features work from the Barbizon and Hague schools. The dramatic painting St. Ludmilla by the Czech/German painter Gabriel von Max is a recent acquisition. In the adjacent gallery, masterpieces by William Bouguereau, Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, and Henri Matisse are visitor favorites.

In 2013, the Centennial Sculpture Park enhanced MAG’s public face with four new site-specific commissions by Wendell Castle, Jackie Ferrera, Tom Otterness and Albert Paley. In the summer of 2017, a light sculpture by Jim Sanborn based upon the history of imaging, photography, and Rochester was installed on the grounds.

Check our calendar listing of collection and exhibition tours!