Since deCordova opened to the public in 1950, the Museum has maintained and enlarged a Permanent Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. The Permanent Collection now comprises over 3,400 artworks in several media: photography, prints, painting, drawing, sculpture, multi-media, and new media (art and technology). These artworks have been acquired as purchases through funds generated by restricted endowments, and as gifts from artists, private collectors, and commercial galleries.
DeCordova’s Permanent Collection is broad in scope, but enjoys particular areas of strength. Photography makes up the plurality of the Permanent Collection (over 1400 artworks) with major holdings of work by photographers Harold Edgerton, Charles “Teenie” Harris, Aaron Siskind, Jules Aarons, Larry Fink, Edward Steichen, and Bradford Washburn. Large-scale sculpture in the Permanent Collection is displayed as part of deCordova’s outdoor Sculpture Park program, and features work by George Rickey, Alexander Liberman, Nam June Paik, Beverly Pepper, Antony Gormley, and others. DeCordova also has the largest and most comprehensive museum collection of works by artists of the New England region since c. 1950, with particular depth in Boston artists in general and members of the mid-twentieth-century Boston Expressionist group (Jack Levine, Hyman Bloom, Karl Zerbe, David Aronson, Arthur Polonsky, Barbara Swan, Bernard Chaet, and others).
DeCordova makes active use of its Permanent Collection. Since 1998, the Museum’s Dewey Family Gallery has featured an ongoing series of exhibitions from the Permanent Collection, with an emphasis on group thematic exhibitions and, more recently, interventions and interpretations by contemporary artists. Works from the Permanent Collection are also featured in deCordova’s Corporate Lending Program, and are frequently loaned to other museums.