History of the MCA Collection
The MCA Collection contains over 4000 works by Australian artists that have been acquired since 1989. The Museum collects across all art forms with strong holdings in painting, photography, sculpture, works on paper and moving image, as well as significant representation of works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. The Collection includes the MCA Contemporary Art Archive; a unique collection of material including artists’ publications, notebooks, music, scripts, letters, writings and drawings that represent a range of experimental practices and capture the ideas and working processes of today’s artists.
The MCA has important holdings of Indigenous art from Arnhem Land dating back to the 1950s including a collection that is held in trust with the community of Maningrida and The Arnott’s collection of bark paintings. 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). Following the founding of the MCA 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 simultaneously 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 represent many more of the Museum’s collecting highlights.
Image: John Mawurndjul, Nialyod (Female rainbow serpent) 1988, Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds donated by Mr and Mrs Jim Bain, 1989, Image courtesy and © the artist