In 1986, The Bronx Museum began collecting works on paper by artists of African, Asian and Latin American ancestry to "reflect the borough's dynamic communities," a policy that was adapted in 1992 to include works in all media. Recognizing the Bronx’s cultural contributions—including the birth of artistic movements such as hip hop, graffiti art and Latin Jazz, that served as inspiration to many contemporary artists—in 1999 the Museum expanded its collecting practice to include works by artists for whom the Bronx has been critical to their artistic practice and development. Currently the Museum owns over 2,000 contemporary artworks in all media.
In 2012, on the occasion of the Bronx Museum’s 40th Anniversary, a generous grant from the Ford Foundation supported the acquisition of over 40 new artworks, including major pieces by artists of historical significance, including Vito Acconci, Alvin Baltrop, Elizabeth Catlett, Juan Downey, Öyvind Fahlström, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, and Martin Wong.
Among those represented in the Museum’s collection are artists from nationalities across the globe which reflect the artistic as well as cultural traditions of those countries: Romare Bearden (US), Tania Bruguera (Cuba), Seydou Keita (Mali), Dinh Q. Le (Vietnam), Nikki S. Lee (Korea), Whitfield Lovell (US), Ana Mendieta (Cuba), Helio Oiticica (Brazil), Pepon Osorio (Puerto Rico), Liliana Porter (Argentina), Juan Sanchez (US), Xu Bing (China), and Kara Walker (US).
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