The Works on Paper Collection, part of the county’s Public Art Collection, consists of more than 550 prints, drawings and watercolors. This project received its impetus with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC, a Federal agency.
Beginning with prints in 1975, the intent of the collection was to encourage and support the visual arts in Montgomery County both by the purchase and exhibition of local artists’ works. To put these works into a broader context, works by such important American printmakers as Josef Albers, Richard Anuskiewicz, Milton Avery, Leonard Baskin, Jack Beal, Ilya Bolotowsky, Jim Dine, Ellsworth Kelly and Peter Milton were acquired. Major prints by members of the Washington Color School including Thomas Downing, Howard Mehring and Sam Gilliam were added, as well as works in the minimalist tradition by Daniel Brush; thus placing area artists within the perspective of artists of national reputation.
Subsequent selections for the collection were made for the next twenty-five years by professionally qualified jurors from area museums and galleries, providing the expertise to make this a collection of extremely high quality and to widen its scope. The Baltimore Museum of Art was invaluable in its assistance to the program.
The art is exhibited in public buildings throughout Montgomery County for the educational and cultural enrichment of its citizens and workforce. The Council Office Building, the Executive Office Building, and the Judicial Center in Rockville are among the offices with a high concentration of works.
For the first thirty years, the office of the County Executive, the County Council and the Recreation Department gave continuous support to the project. In the early 2000s, the project moved from the supervision of Facilities and Services to the Arts and Humanities Council.
Guidelines for managing the Public Arts Trust’s Works on Paper Collection are published in a separate document.