About the Collection
Mary Weaver Chapin, Ph.D., Curator of Prints and Drawings
Main Building | Floor LL
The Portland Art Museum’s Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Center for Graphic Arts is dedicated to the collection, exhibition, preservation, and study of works of art on paper. Housed in the lower level of the Main Building, the collection of more than 26,000 prints, drawings, and photographs is an invaluable resource for scholars, artists, collectors, and visitors. The holdings range from the 12th century to the present. The Adams Foundation Foyer and Helen Copeland Gallery feature rotating special exhibitions highlighting graphic art from the collection.
The Museum received its first significant gift of works on paper from Henrietta E. Failing in 1916. This donation included more than 100 etchings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, followed in 1932 by the gift of the Mary Andrews Ladd collection of nearly 800 Japanese prints. During the 1940s and 1950s, gifts and purchases added a substantial number of works by German Expressionists and Northwest artists to the collection. Robert Rauschenberg’s 1976 donation of 30 prints added important contemporary holdings.
In 1978, Vivian and Gordon Gilkey significantly expanded the Museum’s collection by gifting approximately 8,000 prints from their personal collection, ultimately donating a total of around 14,000 objects. Since then, the holdings have continued to grow, combining an array of works by such artists as Paul Cézanne, Honoré Daumier, Albrecht Dürer, Francisco de Goya, Rembrandt van Rijn, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, and Henri de Toulouse–Lautrec.
American 20th–century prints and drawings are well–represented in the collection, with a comprehensive body of work by artists who have lived and worked in the Northwest. The collection is rich in Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, German Expressionist and modern Mexican works on paper, and contemporary graphic art from the United States, Japan, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe.