Treasures from the Collection
August 24, 2020 – July 3, 2021
When the Museum of Art was dedicated in 1993, Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called it a “treasure house” of art that will “nourish our finer instincts and cause us to more frequently ponder on the wonder of…our Creator.”
The Museum of Art’s collection of over 18,000 artworks had its origins in a university art collection. Beginning in 1909, Brigham Young University sought to bring artwork to its campus as a way of benefitting student education and enriching the campus environment. For a time, artworks hung in buildings across campus and were made readily available for faculty use. However, BYU officials began to see a need for increased regulation and professional safeguards for the school’s valuable art holdings after beloved artworks were found to be missing.
The Museum of Art (MOA) was completed in 1993, as a space dedicated to the preservation of an art collection, as well as venue to feature world-class artwork of various styles and themes. MOA staff has continued to expand the collection by acquiring compelling artworks, primarily focused on American and European art, that will edify and enlighten our community.
Explore each piece featured in the exhibition by clicking on an exhibition section below!
Many of the early works that established the University collection were those of Utah artists. Though for some, names like John Hafen, John B. Fairbanks, James Harwood, Rose Hartwell, and J. Willard Clawson may not stand out in the annals of art history, they represent some of the finest artists in Utah in their day, and their works continue to stand the test of time.
Art is not only educational but inspirational. It offers a unique lens into other cultures and time periods while simultaneously delving into the heart of human emotions and beliefs, connecting the universal human experience through a visual language that transcends boundaries.
The BYU Museum of Art boasts an impressive collection of American artworks, spanning 250 years of American art. Many of the important donations previously highlighted as well as the significant contributions of countless individuals allowed the university to increase their representations of key moments in America’s art tradition.
In 1959, the University received a foundational addition of almost 12,500 artworks to its collection through the estate of American artist Mahonri M. Young, a grandson of Brigham Young. This remarkable gift and purchase included thousands of pieces by Young, as well as a trove of works from the collection of his wife, Dorothy Weir Young, daughter of notable Impressionist artist Julian Alden Weir.
The University began to acquire paintings by Minerva Teichert long before there was a Museum of Art. Teichert gave some of the artworks to the University as a “gifts-in-kind,” trading art as tuition for family members and friends. Other pieces the University purchased shortly after Teichert painted them.
Brigham Young University owns the largest collection of Maynard Dixon artworks in the country—spanning 30 years of Dixon’s remarkable career. Most of the works were acquired in 1937 through the foresight and diligent efforts of Herald R. Clark, Dean of the College of Commerce (now the Marriott School of Business).
Merlin Steed and his wife Alice Wilcox Steed, were art enthusiasts and collectors. The Steeds donated 60 artworks to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1955. In 1961, the gift was transferred to BYU with a total of 90 works given for the Steed Memorial Collection.
Of the 18,000 works in the Museum collection, the majority are works on paper: various forms of prints, drawings, and photographs.