Director’s Choice: Recent Gifts from the Robert Duffy Collection


Provincetown Art Association and Museum is pleased to showcase 19 artworks out of 61 from an unprecedented gift from long time PAAM supporter Robert Duffy.

The collection ranges from the early 1900s featuring important works by Charles Hawthorne and Ambrose Webster to some of Provincetown’s key abstract expressionists, Fritz Bultman and George McNeil. Not included is an exceptional body of black and white photographs which will be exhibited at a later date. PAAM is incredibly grateful to Robert for his sincere commitment to enhancing the legacy that is the oldest continuous art colony in America.

– Christine McCarthy, Curator and PAAM CEO


The permanent collection is an important measure of any museum’s value.

At PAAM, the holdings of local and regional art is extensive and dynamic, comprising nearly 4,000 works by over 700 Twentieth Century and contemporary artists who have worked in Provincetown and on Cape Cod. Their styles were revolutionary and remain noteworthy in the history of American Art. The PAAM Collection weaves together at least three major art movements—each a significant strand of American art history—and creates perspectives that uniquely position the Provincetown Art Colony as a pertinent fixture to the larger art world.

Each year, PAAM presents at least two exhibitions showcasing some of the recent gifts donated to our permanent collection. As an actively collecting museum, PAAM receives on average nearly 100 new works each year, and these exhibitions allow us to proudly display a selection of those works, some of which represent our first works by an artist in our permanent collection. We extend our deepest gratitude to our new and continuing donors.

Another measure of a museum is how well it uses its collection. The PAAM Collection serves as a foundation for many of our educational programs and exhibitions. Programs for both youth and adults in our Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Museum School use collection works to stimulate creativity. The Museum School courses take advantage of gallery exhibitions to clarify principles and techniques. Additionally, major museums and galleries borrow exemplary works for exhibitions around the country.

Embedded into PAAM’s mission, the collection is truly at the heart of our organization. Our Centennial Collection catalog shows how many hundreds of people have been moved to express their generosity through contributions that make up virtually the whole collection. Amassed over an entire century, PAAM’s collection has been donated by people who really cared that the region’s art remain here.

Image: George McNeil, detail of Bather No. 4, 1968, Oil on canvas, 72×78, PAAM Collection, Gift of Robert Duffy, 2022