The American Art permanent collection galleries integrate decorative arts objects with paintings and sculptures, emphasizing the artistic, social and political context for the works on display. While essentially chronological, the installation also juxtaposes works from different cultures and time periods to emphasize the historical connections between works in the collection. The de Young’s holdings of American art include over 800 sculptures and 3,000 decorative arts objects spanning the seventeenth century to the present.
The de Young also features contemporary installation and conceptual works by Andy Goldsworthy, Kiki Smith, and James Turrell. The outdoor Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden houses works by Joan Miró, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, and Claes Oldenburg. The promised gift of the Dorothy and George Saxe Collection will transform the de Young into one of the most important repositories of contemporary studio craft in the United States.
In conjunction with the Bothin Library and department research files, the Katharine Hanrahan American Art Study Center is the most important research center for American art on the West Coast. Since 1991, the American Art Department has also housed a set of the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art microfilm collection.