The Princeton University Art Museum is a resource not only for the Princeton community but for scholars and visitors from around the world. Founded in 1882, the Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country. From the original gift of a collection of porcelain and pottery, the collections have grown to more than 72,000 works of art that range from ancient to contemporary art and concentrate geographically on the Mediterranean regions, Western Europe, China, the United States and Latin America.
Among the strengths of the Museum are the collections of Chinese art, with important holdings in bronzes, tomb figurines, painting and calligraphy. The Museum also has some of the finest holdings in the world in pre-Columbian art, with remarkable examples of the art of the Maya. The Museum has distinguished collections of old master prints and drawings as well as a comprehensive collection of more than 27,000 original photographs.
The Museum administers the Princeton Portraits Collection, comprised of more than six hundred paintings and sculptures of individuals with specific ties to Princeton, and the John B. Putnam Jr. Memorial Collection of 20th- and 21st-century sculpture, which includes works by modern masters such as Alexander Calder, Jacques Lipchitz, Henry Moore and Pablo Picasso.
The Museum is also host to an active schedule of temporary exhibitions and gallery rotations throughout the year. Exhibitions currently on view through June include: Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe; Picturing Power: Capitalism, Democracy, and American Portraiture; and 1913: The Year of Modernism.
Scholarly publishing remains a vital component in the Museum’s mission to advance knowledge of art and archaeology through the study and interpretation of its collections and the presentation of ground-breaking temporary exhibitions. The Museum produces scholarly catalogues, a quarterly magazine and educational materials for its visitors and members.
Located at the center of campus, the Museum is free and open to the public and hosts a dozen temporary exhibitions each year, many motivated by the collections and coordinated with the University curriculum, but presented for the benefit of a broad public.
“From the time of its founding, the Princeton University Art Museum has served as a kind of laboratory or workshop to advance the teaching and research missions of the Department of Art and Archaeology, with which we were cofounded," said James Christen Steward, director of the Art Museum. "This fundamental mission continues, with sustained commitments to assuring that our collections are appropriate to the Department’s evolving teaching and research priorities, that those collections are available for direct study in the galleries and in our study rooms, and that our temporary exhibitions programs offer value to the curriculum." He continued, "Although this set of functions remains at our core, in an age of interdisciplinarity and a time when the University has established a commitment to making the arts available to every Princeton student as a maker, participant or patron, it must be deemed complementary to efforts to engage across disciplines and beyond the University itself.”