When the museum opened in 1955, art was our focus; our dual emphasis on history came later. As a result, the majority of our collection falls under the category of art. We have divided this segment of the collection into four areas of interest:
Our collection started with approximately 100 paintings by our namesake Ernest de Saisset and has grown to include European and American pieces from the Renaissance forward. We also house a small collection of Asian artworks. Recent collecting activity is focused on works by contemporary California artists.
Painting and Sculpture
Our painting and sculpture collection began with approximately 100 paintings by our namesake Ernest de Saisset. Today it includes predominantly Modern and contemporary works, many by notable California artists such as Fletcher Benton, Inez Storer, and Bruce Conner to name a few.
Works on Paper and Photography
Encompassing more than half of our holdings, the works on paper and photography collection includes more than 6500 pieces. Hallmarks of the collection include prints by Enrique Chagoya, Nathan Oliveira, Miriam Schapiro, June Wayne and others. The photography collection centers on 20th century American photographers and includes artists such as Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Imogen Cunningham, Judy Dater, Andy Warhol, and Edward Weston.
The de Saisset Museum holds one of the most important collections of video art in the Bay Area. Comprised of rare videos and films, the collection represents a period in which the museum was a leader in commissioning and exhibiting video art.
Over time the de Saisset Museum has built a significant collection of decorative arts, which include ceramics, glass, porcelain, and furniture.