Recent Gifts to the Permanent Collection: Part I

This exhibition features pieces from four major gifts to PAAM’s permanent collection in 2022.

These recent acquisitions embody both an expansion and a deepening of PAAM’s collection of Provincetown artists. Several artists in this exhibition, such as Helen Frankenthaler and many prominent Provincetown jewelers, have not been represented in PAAM’s permanent collection before this year. These gifts represent a meaningful development of PAAM’s collection into new artists and media.

Works from the Robert Duffy and David Murphy collections demonstrate a new depth to PAAM’s permanent collection with works from prominent mid-century Provincetown artists including Fritz Bultman, Peter Busa, Lester Johnson, and Robert Motherwell. This exhibition features extraordinary examples of mid-century movements in expressionism and abstraction that thrived here and shows the generosity of donors through their contribution to Provincetown art history.


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 more than 4,000 works by over 900 artists who have worked in Provincetown and on Cape Cod. 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.

Image: Helen Frankenthaler, Provincetown Series II, 1960, watercolor and crayon on paper, 19” x 23 ¾”, PAAM Collection, Gift of The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, 2022. © 2022 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./Artists Right Society (ARS), New York.