USC Fisher Museum of Art
USC Fisher Museum of Art is the museum of the University of Southern California and the first museum established in Los Angeles devoted exclusively to the exhibition and collection of fine art. Located on the USC Campus in the heart of Los Angeles, the museum is part of an extraordinary complex of Exposition Park museums including the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the California Science Center, and the California African American Museum. Our exhibition schedule provides a lively offering of contemporary and old master exhibitions designed to introduce the arts to a wide range of audiences. Each exhibition is enhanced with stimulating educational and interdisciplinary programs such as lectures, panel discussions, poetry readings, concerts, and community events for children and families, aligned with the university’s arts and humanities initiatives.
Founded in 1939 by Elizabeth Holmes Fisher and accredited by the American Association of Museums, the museum’s permanent collection includes 16th and 17th century Northern European paintings, 18th century British portraits, 19th century American Hudson River School landscapes, 19th century French Barbizon paintings, as well as 20th and 21st century works on paper, paintings and sculpture, and features exhibitions of local, international, and emerging artists.
In 1937, the University of Southern California accepted a gift from Elizabeth Holmes Fisher to construct what is now known as the USC Fisher Museum of Art, dedicated on November 14, 1939. Mrs. Fisher began collecting art in 1928, with the hope of founding a museum with a fine collection that would provide a cultural base for the city of Los Angeles. “If Los Angeles is to build up her collection of art treasures,” she said, “now is the time.” In January 1936, she was the first woman to serve on the USC Board of Trustees. In addition to founding the museum, Mrs. Fisher gave to the University a significant portion of her art collection. Between 1929 and 1951, she donated a total of 74 paintings, drawings, and sculptures by European and American artists. The Elizabeth Holmes Fisher Collection is comprised of 19th century American Hudson River School and French Barbizon landscapes, 17th and 18th century British portraits, and Dutch and Flemish masterworks from the 16th through 18th centuries. The collection contains representative forerunners from the “golden age” in each of four areas of painting: portraiture, landscape, history, and genre.
Mrs. Fisher’s dream of having her collection act as a nucleus to attract other donations was realized in 1965, when Armand Hammer donated 50 paintings to the museum. Dr. Hammer donated to the University of Southern California, personally and through the Armand Hammer Foundation, a collection of 48 works by Dutch, Flemish, German, and Italian masters of the 15th through 17th centuries, thereby enhancing the core collection.
The greatest area of growth in recent years is in the 20th and 21st century collections, achieved through the generosity of donors and through purchases made by the museum. The contemporary collections are concentrated in the media of painting, prints, drawings, and photography. They feature works principally by artists from California, but also include an emphasis on international art, especially that of Mexico and Spain. It is also designed to include works of art with global and intellectual significance for our university community and the enrichment of our various communities.