The Fort Wayne Museum of Art permanent collection is a diverse group of objects, which consists of nearly 1,400 American paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints and photographs, each telling stories of American history from the late eighteenth century through today.
The museum continues to add to and diversify its collection, taking steps to significantly increase its holdings of photography, glass, and works of diverse media by diverse makers.
Below, you may view several sub collections of significance. Should you have questions regarding any of the work you see, or with to inquire about the collections in general, please contact Sachi Yanari Rizzo at email@example.com.
Over two-thirds of FWMoA's permanent collection are works on paper: prints, drawings, photographs, and watercolor representing three centuries and hundreds of makers and mediums. Much of this collection is housed in the Print and Drawing Study Center, a hybrid gallery and research center open to the public.
The history of American printmaking stretches over the last three centuries and is as vibrant as any other medium in the visual arts. However, full appreciation of the fine art print has long been clouded by confusion, which may stem from the print-making process and delicacies and complexities of the medium itself. To demystify all of this and open everyone’s eyes to the rich and engaging realm of prints and printmaking, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art has created a center through which the public can explore the many dimensions of prints, their makers, and their processes.
The PDSC allows members of the community to interact with works on paper that may not be on current public view. Studying a work up close, without a glass barrier, is an entirely different experience than many have in the traditional gallery setting.
The PDSC at FWMoA is a catalyst for educational opportunities not only for veteran professionals, but for first-time visitors as well. Everything from college and university class visits, to guided tours, to individual appointments for research is possible in the Center.
The Print & Drawing Study Center is open to the public Tuesday - Friday 11:00am - 3:00pm or by appointment. Contact Sachi Yanari-Rizzo at 260.422.6467, ext. 336 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a visit.
Please note that the PDSC's doors, just off the main galleries, remain closed at all times to maintain humidity and temperature standards that keep works on paper safe. These closed doors are unlocked during the PDSC's open hours, and we encourage you to visit this unique museum resource during those times.
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art’s permanent collection consists of nearly 1,400 American paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints and photographs. The museum’s collection includes primarily American art created after 1850 through the present. Significant works include paintings by Janet Fish, George Inness, Alma Thomas, Milton Avery, Thomas Moran, and Larry Rivers; sculpture by Mark di Suvero, Richard Greenough, Kiki Smith, George Rickey, and John Newman; works on paper by Chuck Close, Jasper Johns, Kara Walker, Alison Saar, Dawoud Bey, and Robert Rauschenberg, a collection of 56 Indiana Amish quilts, hundreds of American Cut Glass work and Roseville Pottery.
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art’s first benefactor was Wayne Knitting Mills’ owner Theodore F. Thieme. In 1921 Thieme donated ten paintings to the Fort Wayne Art School, marking the museum’s auspicious birth. Gifts and bequests of art from private individuals have largely shaped the permanent collection over the years.
When the museum moved to the current facility, built in 1984, approximately one half of the current holdings had been acquired. Through the 1980s up to the present the museum pursued creative means of purchasing works of art. The museum has benefited from purchase awards from area and national foundations and purchase grants from Arts United in Fort Wayne and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1996 the Hamilton Circle was established, consisting of members who donated money to fund purchases, including works by Jennifer Bartlett, John Hrehov and Hung Liu.
In 2012, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art was chosen to become the national repository for several hundred pieces of American Brilliant Cut Glass held by the American Cut Glass Association, a non-profit organization devoted to the study of such works.
"Cut glass" is glass that has been decorated entirely by hand by use of rotating wheels. Cuts are made in an otherwise completely smooth surface of the glass by artisans holding and moving the piece against various sized metal or stone wheels, to produce a predetermined pleasing pattern. Cutting may be combined with other decorative techniques, but "cut glass" usually refers to a glass object that has been decorated entirely by cutting.
Although glass making was the first industry to be established in America at Jamestown, Virginia in 1608, no glass is known to have been cut in the New World until at least 160 years later. Henry William Stiegel, an immigrant from Cologne, Germany, founded the American Flint Glass Manufactory in Manheim, Pennsylvania, and it was there in about 1771 that the first cut glass was produced in America.
Several exciting events dramatically improved American’s cut glass industry, and brought about a superiority that won world acclaim. Near the beginning of the Brilliant Period, deposits of high grade silica were discovered in this country, leading to glass-making formulas vastly better than those used in Europe.
At the same time, many of Europe’s finest glass makers and cutters were immigrating to this country to seek their fortunes, and they found ready markets for their talents when America moved into a very prosperous era in the closing quarter of the 19thcentury. Cut glass became a symbol of elegance and leisure, and demand for beautiful glass products spurred intense competition and creativity within the industry.
High labor cost inherent in the manufacture of cut glass has always made it a luxury item. Unfortunately, until late in the nineteenth century, American glass houses found it difficult to compete against a vogue that held European glass to be superior to the domestic product. The prejudice began to disappear when eight enterprising American companies showed their beautiful wares at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. A boom was sparked throughout the northeast, and the Brilliant Period had indeed begun.
But by 1908, less than 100 glass cutting shops remained, when at the period's peak, there existed over 1,000. Since true cut glass is entirely hand-decorated, high labor costs made it extremely expensive and out of reach to all but the affluent class. Intense competition, both domestic and from abroad, and the introduction of inexpensive pressed glass in patterns imitating cut glass, forced cost cutting short cuts on the dynamic, new American industry.
The outbreak of World War I dealt the final blow to the fascinatingly brief birth, growth and decline of a uniquely American achievement. Brilliant cut glass. Lead oxide – an essential ingredient in glass made for cutting was needed for more urgent uses, and by the time the war ended, the few factories that had managed to survive used their resources to produce less costly glass. Thus ended an era of Yankee ingenuity, never to return.
John C. Roesel, June 1983
The museum's collection of Indiana Impression is significant in a number of ways. The inaugural donation to the museum's permanent collection was all Indiana Impressionism--a gift of ten paintings featuring the work of notable Brown County artists such as William Forsyth, J. Ottis Adams, and Homer Davisson. The style represents an important turning point in American art as well: this style, more than ever before, rejected most of the current teachings in academic, studio-based art and effectively inspired even greater divergence from academic painting as the decades of the early 20th century wore on.
The style, marked by textured, active brushstrokes as a result of looser and more dynamic artist motion, intended to evoke more emotional and sensual responses rather than represent specific detail and document factual elements of people, places, or things. The Indiana impressionists are known for their love of the untouched natural environment away from developed towns and cities, and their compositions emphasize the trees, hills, and natural lakes of Indiana's landscape. Their works were begun (and often finished) out of doors, with a range of colors dotting the canvasses to represent changing light and shifting winds. Colors in these works are warm and rich, with hues of red, orange, green, and brown that best convey the colors of Indiana.