Spotlight on the Collection

Besides its unbeatable lineup of special exhibitions, the BMA has one of the finest permanent collections in the Southeast. With more than 24,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, videos, and decorative arts, the collection spans more than 4000 years and represents cultures from around the globe. Now, discover your Museum with the Spotlight on the Collection series. Experience the spotlight work in the galleries with an ArtBreak or Slow Art Sunday, like us on Facebook to learn more, or join the conversation below to tell us what you think about these artworks!

June 2014: Somnus

June 2014: Somnus

Somnus, Wedgwood, about 1774 The prototype for this figure is the sculpture by Alessandro Algardi, now in the Galleria Borghese in Rome. Wedgwood had access to it through an engraving in Bernard de Montfaucon’s work L’antiquité expliquée, a popular design

May 2014: Plank Mask

May 2014: Plank Mask

Plank Mask, Yacouba Bonde, late 20th century The Bwa – an ethnic group of about 300,000 people who live in small villages and towns in the West African countries of Burkina Faso and Mali – mark rites of passage such

April 2014: Ganesha

April 2014: Ganesha

Ganesha, Cambodian, 10th century In Hinduism, the god Ganesha both places and clears away obstacles. He appears frequently in all walks of Hindu life: by the roadside, in household shrines, in temples and shops, and inside covers of books. His

March 2014: Hamilton Folios

March 2014: Hamilton Folios

Etruscan, Greek, and Roman Antiquities from the Cabinet of the Honble William Hamilton, Baron Pierre d’Hancarville, 1766-1767 What is the value in collecting vases? In 1772, Sir William Hamilton sold his collection of  Greek vases and other antiquities to the British

February 2014: Jizo Bosatsu

February 2014: Jizo Bosatsu

Jizō Bosatsu, Japanese, about 1100 One of the most beloved Buddhist deities in Japan, Jizō is a bosatsu (bodhisattva), one of a group of enlightened beings who choose to delay entry into nirvana in order to help others. As the

January 2014: Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California

January 2014: Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California

Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California, Albert Bierstadt, 1865 Albert Bierstadt’s adept handling of the brush, sensitivity to composition and color, and ability to capture the atmospheric qualities of light place him among the most effective painters of the natural splendor of

December 2013: Jar

December 2013: Jar

Jar. Vietnamese, 16th century. Glazed stoneware with four monster-head bosses below rim, mythological animals with cloud and flame motifs painted in underglaze-blue cobalt-oxide and overglaze enamels, with inset, reticulated, bisque-fired roundels with cranes. 24 1/4 × 15 inches. Collection of

November 2013: Chilkat Blanket

November 2013: Chilkat Blanket

Chilkat Blanket, Native American, Tlingit people, 19th century A chilkat blanket is worn draped over the shoulders of chiefs or high-ranking men during important ceremonial occasions. The graphic, bold design elements are derived from family crests and are composed of

October 2013: Cup

October 2013: Cup

Cup, colonial period Inca culture, 18th century Some traditions withstand the test of time – through generations, cultural changes, and even centuries of progress and modernization. Yet, these same outside influences often result in new ideas and approaches that supplant

September 2013: I Am a Man

September 2013: I Am a Man

I Am a Man: Sanitation Workers Strike, Memphis, Tennessee, March 28th, 1968, Ernest Withers, 1968 After Ernest Withers (1922-2007) received his first camera in high school, he quickly began documenting events and people in his immediate community.  A quiet determination

August 2013: Dawn

August 2013: Dawn

L’Aurore (Dawn), William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1881 Dawn – early morning represented by a female figure reaching back to smell a blooming calla lily – exemplifies William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s standards of beauty and technical skill. His attention to detail and smooth finished surfaces

July 2013: Perfume Fountain

July 2013: Perfume Fountain

Perfume Fountain, French, about 1710 Porcelain, a ceramic material first made in China, was a staple of trade between Europe and East Asia. Though the present in Europe in the early 17th century, King Louis XIV of France’s affinity for

June 2013: Portland Vase copy

June 2013: Portland Vase copy

Portland Vase Copy, Josiah Wedgwood, 1789 A Roman artist carved the Portland Vase from cameo glass around the 1st century AD. Unearthed in the late 16th or early 17th century, it came into the collection of Margaret Bentinck, 2nd Duchess

May 2013: School of Beauty, School of Culture

May 2013: School of Beauty, School of Culture

School of Beauty, School of Culture, Kerry James Marshall, 2012 For many African American artists born during the Civil Rights Movement, turbulent events they witnessed or experienced growing up during that time affect their later work. Kerry James Marshall, who

April 2013: Urn Representing Cosijo, the God of Rain

April 2013: Urn Representing Cosijo, the God of Rain

Urn Representing Cosijo, the God of Rain, Zapotec culture, Mexico, about AD 450 You can’t take it with you – or can you? The saying “you can’t take it with you” encourages people to enjoy life to the fullest since