Upon opening to the public in 1954, the McNay’s collection began with a strong emphasis on Modern European and American art that reflected Marion Koogler McNay’s interest in French painting and Post-Impressionism. Since the museum’s founding, the collection has increased in both size and range to over 20,000 objects to date. Areas of strength include American art since World War II, Modern European and American prints and drawings, and the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts, which comprises over 9,000 theatre arts objects focusing on scene and costume designs. Scroll over each highlight to read more about the collection, and click to see the featured objects in each section.
Co-organized by the museum’s four curators, Recycled, Repurposed, Reborn: Collage and Assemblage brings together for the first time two- and three-dimensional works from all areas of the McNay’s collection, including American and European modern and contemporary art, and the renowned Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts.
Since Mrs. McNay's founding bequest of superb French Post-Impressionist paintings, the Modern collection has grown to represent Impressionism and its forerunners, as well as later European works.
Another focus of the McNay collection is American art from the 20th century, with strong examples from both the American scene style and European-influenced modernism.
The McNay’s collection has strengths in 20th c. art movements, representing Abstract Expressionist painting and sculpture, geometric abstraction, and assemblage and minimal sculpture. These unite with a diverse mix of paintings, sculptures and works on paper emphasizing American artists after 1970.
The McNay print collection is recognized for its focus on the graphics of the 19th and 20th centuries as well as for the overall quality of its holdings. Particular areas of strength are 19th c. French and American prints, German Expressionist graphics, and post-1960 American works on paper.
The McNay's theatre collection emphasizes European and American theatre from the 16th century to the present. Highlights include Baroque festivals, Shakespeare plays, the Ballets Russes, Broadway musicals, and contemporary operas.
Twenty-three acres of sloping lawns and wooded paths are home to a Japanese-inspired garden and a collection of major works of modern outdoor sculpture. Highlights include pieces by Alexander Liberman, Tony Smith, and Joel Shapiro.
Over decades of active collecting, Jeanne and Irving Mathews developed one of the finest collections of 19th and 20th century French art glass in the United States along with a formidable library on the subject.
In 1955, Dr. and Mrs. Frederic Oppenheimer gave the museum their collection of Medieval and Renaissance sculptures and paintings. Highlights of the collection include works by Albrecht Bouts, the Master of Frankfurt, and Taddeo di Bartolo as well as French, German, and Netherlandish sculptures.
On summer visits to New Mexico, Mrs. McNay amassed a large collection of Native American and New Mexican folk art. She acquired several dozen santos, fine collections of decorative arts, and watercolors by members of the Taos Society of Artists.