Lotus Eaters painting by Fay Jones

Anatomy of a Collection: Recent Acquisitions and Promised Gifts

September 19, 2020 - March 21, 2021

Lightcatcher Building

Curated by Amy Chaloupka, Curator of Art

To mark ten years since the Lightcatcher building’s construction, the Whatcom Museum celebrates the works of art welcomed into the permanent collection during this time. We also acknowledge the long-standing relationships with area artists and patrons who have helped to shape and expand the collection through gifts of art. Their generous contributions support the Museum’s mission to stimulate inquiry about our changing cultural, natural, and historical landscapes by diversifying our exhibition and education programming.

Anatomy of a Collection also reflects the Museum’s goals to extend into new areas of collecting, centered around expanding conversations and interests of today’s audiences. Many acquisitions focus on under-represented artists with a multiplicity of perspectives, variety of themes, and diverse media. Additionally, the exhibition provides a unique look at the internal workings of museum collecting practices, making this process transparent to the community. The Museum values the idea that the artworks preserved in its buildings are held in public trust and serve as important visual connection points for education, critical analysis, preservation of culture, and storytelling.

Many recent acquisitions and promised gifts expand existing holdings of significant works by artists of the Pacific Northwest including works by Wendell Brazeau, Susan Bennerstrom, Mary Henry, Clayton James, Mark Tobey, and more. Other acquisitions are tied to important solo exhibitions hosted by the Museum that delve deep into an artist’s practice and career, such as Ed Bereal, John Cole, John Grade, and Lesley Dill. More than seventy works will be on view, many for the first time at the Museum.

Funding for this exhibition has been provided by the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the Museum Advocates, the City of Bellingham, and Mary Summerfield & Mike O’Neal. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) with additional support provided by Humanities Washington and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan of 2020.

Featured image: Fay Jones; Lotus-Eaters, 1993; Aquatint; 31.5 x 43 in. Gift of the Washington Art Consortium through gift of Safeco Insurance, a member of the Liberty Mutual Group.


Learn more from Amy Chaloupka, Curator of Art, about works in this exhibition that were a Gift of the Washington Art Consortium through a gift of Safeco Insurance, a member of the Liberty Mutual Group.


Get more insight into artist Lesley Dill’s art installation, Shimmer, which is featured in this exhibition.


Watch a series of collection highlights offering insight into specific artworks and artists. These short videos are written and narrated by Museum docents and reflect their interpretations of the works.