Installation of artwork acquired in the early days of FWMoA.

A Century of Making Meaning: 100 Years of Collecting

February 06, 2021 - March 13, 2022

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Over the past ten years, we have curated an annual exhibition, entitled Year of Making Meaning, in which we showcase a selection of the works of art that the museum acquired through purchases or gifts. The purpose of this annual exhibition is to both celebrate the growth of our collection that year and give the public a chance to see what they think of our recent collection. Sort of an aesthetic accounting, if you will.

This exhibition, A Century of Making Meaning, takes on a bigger challenge: here, in the next twelve months, we are going to examine our collecting over the 100 years of our institutional existence, decade by decade, in an ever-evolving exhibition that changes every month. Our collection currently contains over 7,500 works of art, therefore, it will not be possible for us to exhibit everything in the collection. Rather, we will share the highlights of each decade with you, giving you a sense of the aesthetic “character” of each decade.

An important detail I would like you to keep in mind as you come in to see each iteration of this year-long extravaganza is that because so many of our acquisitions were gifts, rather than purchases, each version of this exhibition is also a look into the tastes and interests of our donors in each particular decade. This could be said to a degree, of course, about most museums, but our collection is a unique mix of art given to us by local people, national collectors with ties to Fort Wayne, and curators who make every effort to make purchases that will reflect as much of the American art story as possible. I am very proud of the collectors who helped shape our museum’s fine collection. I am also proud of the statement our collection makes about the positivism and good aesthetic taste of the people of our fair city over these past 100 years.

-Fort Wayne Museum of Art President and CEO, Charles Shepard III

This exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Journal Gazette Foundation. This exhibition is supported by the following individuals through their gifts to the FWMoA 2020 Annual Fund: David L. and Janet Seiwert Bell, Melanie and Bob Hall, the Ladowski Family, Betty Lou and Floyd Lancia, Barbara and Stephen McMurray, Cindy and Mark Renshaw, Judy K. Roy, Don and Kathy Steininger, Nancy and David Stewart, Mark and Kathie Swaim, and Kathleen M. Summers.


A Century of Making Meaning will periodically change what is on display in the gallery space. These dates are subject to change but are a guide for when to plan a visit.

February 6 – March 7: Early years through the 1930s.
March 13 – April 11: The 1940s
April 17 – May 16: The 1950s
May 22 – June 20: The 1960s
June 26 – July 25: The 1970s
July 31 – August 29: The 1980s
September 4 – October 3: The 1990s
October 9 – November 7: The 2000s through 2020
A showcase of our Special Collections and Archives and Glass collection will round out 2021 and begin 2022.