Since the MCA’s founding in 1989, our collection has developed across all visual art forms with strong holdings in painting, photography, sculpture, the moving image and works on paper, as well as significant representation of works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.
From photography to bark paintings, this changing collection explores the history of contemporary art in Australia. In different ways the works show how artists study the past to reflect on shared histories and sites of conflict. Further works illustrate the wide range of approaches to abstraction, while some use everyday materials to suggest the poetic and the extraordinary. In the tradition of conceptual art, other work shows how words and language continue to be a source of creativity.
The museum has important holdings of Aboriginal art from Arnhem Land dating back to the 1950s, including the Arnott’s collection of bark paintings and a collection that is held in trust with the community of Maningrida. A number of significant collections were donated to the museum by Loti and Victor Smorgon (1995), Henry Ergas (2009), Ann Lewis (2009) and Cathy and Andrew Cameron (2012). Through the JW Power Bequest and with assistance from the New South Wales Government, the Museum continues to manage the Power Collection on behalf of the University of Sydney.
Following the reopening of the Museum in 2012, when a significant proportion of gallery space was dedicated to the presentation of the collection, the Museum embarked on a new MCA Collection Online initiative, supported by the Ian Potter Foundation. This growing resource includes in-depth analysis of artworks, images, exhibition histories and biographical details. MCA Collection Online is a work in progress; an evolving resource that will over time present many more of the Museum’s collecting highlights.