From its earliest days, the Museum has closely followed and supported contemporary art. In 1908, the Museum acquired its first original painting, created by the American Impressionist Childe Hassam in the same year. In 1905 and 1913, exhibitions of avant-garde art were presented at the Museum, including Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase and other momentous works from the controversial 1913 Armory Show in New York.
The Museum began building a collection of 20th-century art in the late 1940s. A 1971 gift of funds in Evan H. Roberts’ name allowed a series of sculpture purchases by artists such as Henry Moore and Mark Di Suvero. In 2000, the Museum acquired the Clement Greenberg Collection of 159 paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures by some of the most important American artists of the mid-20th century. The acquisition, supported by Tom and Gretchen Holce, and Carol and John Hampton, along with a number of major gifts, resulted in a quantum leap in the collection. Today, the collection includes works that date back to World War I and originate from North and South America, Asia, and Europe.
The Belluschi Building’s Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Sculpture Court is dedicated to exhibiting large-scale works from the Museum’s holdings. In 2005, the Museum introduced the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art to accommodate the growing collection. Located on all six floors of the Mark Building, the 28,000-square-foot Center was created to present rotating exhibitions of more than 400 modern works from the collection, in addition to special contemporary art exhibitions.
The Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art is connected to the Belluschi Building by the underground Suywin Gallery. As visitors exit the Suywin Gallery and ascend six floors through the Center, the installations trace the evolution of Modernism in roughly chronological order. A variety of media are incorporated into this complex presentation, including traditional paintings and sculpture, photography, works on paper, decorative arts, new media and time-based art such as video and sound works. Since 2005, the fourth floor of the Center has featured exhibitions from the Miller Meigs contemporary art series, which celebrates new ideas, artists, and mediums.