MNA’s fine art collection is particularly robust in art from the late 19th and early 20th century, when the museum began actively acquiring art under the first art curator, museum co-founder Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton. That was a time when many Anglo artists came to the area, including Samuel Colman, Thomas Moran, William Henry Holmes, Louis Akin, Gunnar Widforss, and others found in the MNA collections. Some of their depictions of the Grand Canyon and other Southwest landscapes brought attention and visitors to the region. The collection of Gunnar Widforss paintings at MNA constitutes the largest collection of his work in the world, and MNA is also home to a complete catalog of Widforss’ work, compiled by curator Alan Petersen.
Navajo, Pueblo, and Apache artists created more than 1,300 works of art in the collection and a number of the Native American artists are notable alumni of the Institute of American Indian Arts (formerly the Santa Fe Indian School) from the mid-20th century, when the boarding school was at the height of its influence.
Among the artists in the collection:
Pop Chalee (Merina Lujan), Jack Hokeah, Oscar Howe, Gerald Nailor, Quncy Tahoma, Pablita Velarde, Neil David, Dr., Oswald Fredericks (White Bear), Anthony Honahnie, Delbridge Honanie, Fred and Michael Kabotie, Linda Lomahaftewa, Willard Joseph Maktima, Waldo Mootzka, Raymond Naha, Dan and Michael Namingha, Dan Namoki, Harrison Begay, Robert Chee, R.C. Gorman, David Johns, Quincy Tahoma, Andy Tsinajinnie, Baje Whitethorne, Beatien Yazz (Jimmy Toddy), Pop Chalee, Duane Dishta, Helen Hardin, Joe Hilario and Velino Shije Herrera, Patrick Swazo Hinds, Wolf Robe Hunt, Charles Lovato, Julian Martinez, Rafael Medina, Tonita Pena, Ben Quintana, Jose D. Roybal, Abel Sanchez, Percy Tsisete Sandy, Pablita Velarde, Romando Vigil, and Tomas Vigil, Allan Houser, Emory Kopta, Louis Akin, Arthur Best, Carl Oscar Borg, Elbridge Ayer Burbank, Ferdinand Burgdorff, George Elbert Burr, Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton, Vincent Colyer, Samuel Colman, Maynard Dixon, William Henry Holmes, Wilson Hurley, William Robinson Leigh, Albert Lorey Groll, Jeffrey Lunge, Ed Mell, Lillian Wilhelm Smith, James G. Swinnerton, and Gunnar Widforss. The collection also contains artwork from contemporary Southwest artists such as Bruce Akin, Doug Atwill, Carol Brown, Rhett Lynch, Merrill Mahaffey, Joella Jean Mahoney, Ed Mell, Clare Romano, Barry Thompson, Doug West, and others.