The Picker Art Gallery’s collection consists of approximately 11,000 objects from a wide range of cultures and time periods.
Comprising extensive holdings of works on paper and photographs, as well as a significant number of paintings and sculptures, the museum’s collection actively supports the curriculum at Colgate by making original works of art available for object-based learning, teaching, and research.
The foundation for the collection was the gift of nearly 1,100 paintings, drawings, prints, ceramics, sculptures, textiles, and decorative arts by Herbert Mayer ʼ29 in 1966. This donation included numerous works by important figures from the European modernist movement, including Paul Gauguin, Paul Klee, and Karel Appel. The donation also included works by an international cadre of mid–20th-century artists from around the world, including many by Spanish, Italian, Greek, and Scandinavian painters and draftsmen.
In the subsequent decades, the Picker Art Gallery continued to strengthen its holdings of works by important 20th-century artists. The development of the museum’s photographic collection, which now numbers approximately 1,400 images, coincides with this period of growth and includes works by renowned photographers such as Lee Friedlander, Lucien Clergue, and Diane Arbus. Of particular note is the museum’s collection of more than 100 iconic photographs by Russian photographer Yevgeny Khaldei.
Other major donations have helped to shape the collection. The group of more than 200 woodcuts produced in China during the 1930s and 1940s given by former Colgate professor Theodore Herman and his wife, Evelyn Chen Shi-ying, is unparalleled in the United States. Thanks to donations by Robert Gordon ʼ50, the collection is also strong in 20th-century British prints, including works by William Hogarth, David Bomberg, and Julian Trevelyan. Continued donations by Dr. Luther W. Brady ʼ88 have ranged from baroque paintings to modern and contemporary prints and drawings. The Picker Art Gallery also holds an extensive collection of sketches, drawings, and paintings by central New York artist and illustrator Lee Brown Coye.
Although heavily concentrated on 20th century paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs, the collection also contains a small number of ceramics from China, Persia, and the Americas. The museum’s collection of approximately 300 sculptures is diverse, having come from around the world and a range in time periods — from classical antiquity to contemporary works.
The gallery continues to actively grow its collection through the acquisition of high-quality, original works of art that augment its holdings and enhance the museum’s ability to be a valuable cultural resource for Colgate and its surrounding communities.