Permanent Collection

The permanent collection of the Art Museum of Southeast Texas consists of nearly 1,700 objects. Artworks within the collection include paintings, collages, textile works, large and small sculptures, drawings, photographs, decorative arts, folk art, and mixed media objects. AMSET began acquiring works in 1950 and continues to add artworks through donations and museum purchases. Over the past decade, a concentrated effort has been placed on narrowing the focus of the permanent collection to assemble a cohesive but integrated body of artwork. Areas of concentration include 19th – 21st c. modern and contemporary North American and Mexican art with a focus on this region. The permanent collection includes the recently acquired John G. Fairey Collection of Mexican Folk Art, which numbers 474 objects.

AMSET’s permanent collection represents over 430 artists, including: Robert Rauschenberg, John Alexander, Maude Carron, Dixie Friend Gay, Carlomagno Pedro Martínez, Angélica Delfina Vásquez Cruz, James Surls, Mary McCleary, Billy Hassell, Celia Eberle, Johnnie Swearingen, Burgess Dulaney, Keith Carter, David Cargill, Felix “Fox” Harris, David Bates and Jesús Moroles.


Patrick Turk, Dust, 2016, hand-cut paper and mixed media on panel, Gift of Rob Clark and Jerry Thacker in memory of Thomas Wesley Herbst, PC 2020.04.

The museum collection includes:

Texas Fine Art

Texas Folk Art

Regional/Southeast Texas Folk Art

Early American Folk Art

Mexican Folk Art

Early American Art (prior to 1970)

European Art

Contemporary Mexican Art

Decorative Arts

What is a permanent collection?

A permanent collection is a group of artworks, objects, or artifacts protected and cared for by an organization. These objects usually have significant cultural and educational value to the community, state, or nation in which the organization is located.

How are objects added to the permanent collection?

There are different processes for different institutions, but most museums have similar policies. Artwork can be donated to the museum by a private individual, estate or company. Artwork can also be purchased by the museum from a gallery, artist or collector.

Often a collector will contact the museum’s Curatorial staff about donating an artwork through email or a phone call. The Curatorial staff determines whether or not the artwork would fit into the focus of the museum’s collection and if it fills certain gaps in the collection. The staff always considers how the artwork fits into the museum’s collection management plan – a comprehensive document that acts as a guide for developing and strengthening the permanent collection. The plan is written and updated by the museum staff and approved by the Acquisitions Committee.

If the staff believes it could fit into the collection, the artwork then has to be voted on by two committees. The first committee is the Acquisitions Committee, which is made up of local community members and museum leadership positions. The Acquisitions Committee considers a number of factors before approving an artwork for the permanent collection. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Will the artwork fulfill the goals established in the Collection Management Plan?
  • Does the artwork fit into the museum’s collecting mission?
  • Does the museum have space to store the artwork?
  • Is the artwork made out of stable materials, or will it deteriorate quickly over time?
  • Does the museum already have artwork in the collection by this artist?
  • Has the artist exhibited at AMSET in the past?
  • How has this artist impacted the art world?
  • When would we exhibit this artwork?

The Art Museum of Southeast Texas (AMSET) is an actively collecting institution, meaning that we are accepting donations or making purchases right now; however, we currently are very selective in this process.

If an artwork is approved by the Acquisitions Committee, the artwork is presented to the Board of Trustees. If the Board approves the donation or purchase, the Curatorial Staff contacts the donor or artist about signing legal paperwork and transporting the artwork to the museum.


Mary McCleary, I Fled Him Down the Days and Down the Nights, 2000, mixed media collage on paper, PC 2002.09.

Why don’t I see works by Monet or Picasso at AMSET?

AMSET’s collections and exhibitions are regionally focused. Our regions of focus include contemporary or early art from Texas and Louisiana, Regional American Folk Art, and Mexican Folk Art. On occasion, we will exhibit decorative art objects or artworks from other time periods or geographical locations if exhibiting those objects provides an educational component to a larger, regionally focused exhibition.

I am interested in donating artwork to AMSET or having an artwork considered for purchase. What do I need to do?

The museum is actively seeking artworks that fit into our Collections Plan from particular time periods and geographical locations, including but not limited to: North American Folk Art, Mexican Folk Art, Early Texas Art and Contemporary Texas Art.

Please contact Caitlin Clay, Curator of Exhibitions, at cclay@amset.org or at 409-832-3432, if you are interested in donating an artwork to AMSET. Having information such as dimensions, quality digital images (please no blurry photos), provenance (history of how the artwork was acquired and who has owned it), and value readily available is greatly appreciated, but not required.

What does AMSET do with donations that do not fit into the focus of the permanent collection?

AMSET will at times accept artwork for fundraising purposes. By donating the artwork to AMSET, the donor may receive a tax deduction. By donating in this manner, the donor agrees to allow AMSET to sell the artwork to assist with fundraising efforts. Whether or not an artwork is accepted for fundraising purposes is determined by AMSET’s Curatorial Staff.

Please contact Caitlin Clay, Curator of Exhibitions, at cclay@amset.org or at 409-832-3432, if you are interested in donating an artwork for fundraising purposes to AMSET. Having information such as dimensions, quality digital images, provenance (history of how the artwork was acquired and who has owned it), and value readily available is greatly appreciated, but not required.


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