Keep, Care and Collect On
October 31 - December 5, 2014
January 16 - March 15, 2015
and April 10 - June 14, 2015
The de Saisset Museum opened its doors in 1955 with seemingly expansive gallery space and a relatively small collection consisting of paintings by the museum's namesake, Ernest de Saisset, and a handful of de Saisset family heirlooms. Early museum directors and University personnel immediately focused on expanding the museum's holdings, and the effort continues to this day. The de Saisset Museum is still actively building its collection. Sixty years after the museum opened, the vault now houses more than 11,500 objects—a sizable number for an organization of our size. The content of the collection has expanded well beyond the limits of our founding gifts. Today, the museum collects in six main areas: California History, Mission-era liturgical vestments, decorative arts, painting and sculpture, works on paper, and new media.
In the earliest years of the museum's history, the scope of the developing collection was broad. The museum possessed no formal policy governing acquisitions until the 1990s. As a result, the collection grew to include a wide variety of objects, ranging from Mission-era artifacts to 19th century beer steins to contemporary California art.
In the six decades since the organization was founded, the museum's collecting goals have become more refined. Today, we not only have a Collections Management policy, but a well-defined Collecting Plan. Each potential acquisition is reviewed and voted upon by the museum's Collections Committee, an advisory body whose primary responsibility is to insure that growth in the collection supports the goals of both the de Saisset Museum and Santa Clara University.
Keep, Care and Collect On highlights the range of artworks brought into the collection in the last four years. Through these works many stories are told. Pieces by Fletcher Benton, Wynn Bullock, and Jo Whaley reflect the diverse exhibition history of the organization. Works by Renee Billingslea, Enrique Chagoya, Gustavo Ramos Rivera, and Joe Zirker speak to our commitment to supporting California-based artists in all stages of their careers. Objects by artists such as Wayne Thiebaud reflect our dedication to integrated education. We not only have one of the final editioned prints of Green Gumball Machine, we also hold the proofs and color swatches created by Thiebaud during his working process. The newly acquired screen prints by Andy Warhol build upon a previous gift of 157 photographs from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts through the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program. The pieces by Warhol not only speak to the museum's interest in collecting works on paper, but strengthen the collection and allow us to present work by one of America's most well-known artists.
This exhibition, and the rich holdings it represents, would not be possible without the generosity of the collectors, artists, and foundations who have donated these works. Their understanding of the significant impact an artwork can have, especially on a University campus, enables us to fulfill our mission and meet our collecting goals. It is through their continuous support that we are able to bring thought-provoking, inspiring, and socially-engaging works of art to our audience. They make it possible for us to keep, care, and collect on.