Exhibitions - The Gift: Building a Collection for the Queens Museum

The Gift: Building a Collection for the Queens Museum

Traditionally museums keep collections. It is, in part, what defines them. Through the years the Queens Museum of Art has relied upon the generosity of collectors, artists and friends who have endowed this relatively young institution with a body of work of both contemporary and historical significance. The Museum’s collection, including the heart-stopper Panorama of the City of New York, has tripled in size over the past five years, from a core of approximately 5,000 items mainly related to the World’s Fairs, to a cache now including nearly 4,000 photographs from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries and an equal quantity of prints and drawings from the 1930’s to the present. Additionally, in anticipation of the Museum’s upcoming expansion, we have also been fortunate to acquire large scale sculptural installations that correspond to the expanse of the building’s uniquely shaped galleries.


The past five years have brought with them a number of important acquisitions, among them six important bodies of work, as well as remarkable contemporary pieces given by the artists who have become in many ways, the Museum’s biggest supporters. As a Museum deeply rooted in the World’s Fairs that took place on an around our site, two forgotten events from the 1939 and 1964 Fairs have been the focus of past exhibitions, and have since become crucial parts of our permanent collection: a body of fascinating photographs capturing Salvador Dalì in the midst of creating his 1939 Surrealist pavilion, Dream of Venus; and Photography in the Fine Arts, an encyclopedic exhibition of 138 iconic images from the professional, commercial, and amateur worlds of photography shown in the Kodak Pavilion in 1965. These two collections, together with generous gifts from photographer and dealer of photographs Charles W. Schwartz and the selections from New York Noir: Crime Photos from the New York Daily News Archive have provided a wonderful cross section of photography’s ascendancy from a 19th century document to a legitimate art form. Complimenting these broad and concentrated photographic records are two collections of drawings and etchings by a pair of artists whose combination of artistic sensibility and social commentary shed light on the rapidly changing world of the 20th century: John Sloan, whose etchings bring the highs and lows of New York City life in the first half of the 20th century to light; and William Sharp, whose drawings captured the rise of the Nazi regime, Cold War political tensions and the courtroom drama of major trials including those of Alger Hiss, Tokyo Rose and the Lindbergh kidnapper, Bruno Hauptmann.


These six major gifts have been a tremendous boon to the Museum’s collections, but so too have the many ambitious artists’ projects that have become the trademark of the Museum’s curatorial endeavor. The work shown here speaks volumes of these artists’ interest in assisting the Museum in building an important collection of contemporary work that addresses shifting trends in the international art community as well as the increasingly cosmopolitan dynamic of the borough of Queens.



Masayuki Kawai’s video, Yamato Takeru (2004), will be screened in the Theater.


Participating artists: Anonymous, Richard Avedon, Felice Beato, Werner Bischof Joseph Breitenbach, Esther Bubley, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Chieng-Chi Chang, Sam Folk, Marietta Ganapin, Chitra Ganesh, Burt Glinn, Terence Gower, Bolek Greczynski, Ellen Harvey, Ken Heyman, Tamar Hirschl, Jenny Holzer, Eric Hongisto, Don Hunter, Masayuki Kawai, Shin il Kim, William Klein, Dorothea Lange, Abigail Lazkoz, Pia Lindman, Larry Litt, Nava Lubelski, Rita McBride and Discoteca Flaming Star, Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier, John L. Moore, Inge Morath, Fred Morgan, John Morris, Yasushi Nagao, Yamini Nayar, New York Daily News, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Arnold Newman, Nils Norman, Ruth Orkin, Eung-Ho Park, Fernando Renes, Mark Riboud, Troy Richards, Arhur Rothstein, Theodore Rozumalski, Raymond Saá, David Seymour, William Sharp, SLAAAP!, John Sloan, W. Eugene Smith, K. Tamamura, Brian Tolle, Julian LaVerdiere, Javier Viver, Tom Warren, Louise Weinberg, WNYC New York Public Radio


The Gift 2008 is supported in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts.