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The Collection

The Square’s permanent collection consists primarily of modern and contemporary art, a significant holding of American primitive wood sculptures, and a small collection of concrete sculptures by self-taught artist Dr. Charles Smith (born 1940). The primitive wood sculptures (work by self-taught Montana artist, Lee Steen, 1898-1975) are particularly important to the region, the museum’s mission and audience members. The Steen collection ranges from small, free-standing to larger-than-life stick figures. Steen’s work reflects a genre once common but now rarely visible to the public along Montana roadsides and selections remain on permanent display in the Jorgensen Gallery. The Steen collection forms an important counterpoint and contextual reference point for The Square’s modern and contemporary collection. Connections are drawn between the self-taught or outsider artists’ needs to create and the impetus for creation experienced by mainstream and avant-garde artists. This framework provides synergy for people who struggle to find a connection with or form a deeper respect and understanding for the often conceptual and non-pictorial works created by contemporary artists.

The museum’s collection continues to grow and museum staff members are currently fulfilling a three-year project (funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust) to fully document and catalog the collection making its contents available online. Check back as we continue to augment our searchable online database and introduce recent acquisitions.

In the summer of 2010, The Square began emphasizing rotating exhibitions drawn from the museum’s collection in the James M. and Frances M. Wylder gallery. For more information about current collections exhibitions, please click here.

Museum staff members (led by the museum’s mission, policies and procedures) consider proposed acquisitions throughout the year. For more information about how you can participate in the preservation and enhancement of The Square’s permanent collection, contact the museum’s Curator of Art.



This programming is made possible by the generous support of our members and supporters, with ongoing support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Montana Arts Council and Cascade County.

National Endowment for the Arts Logo linked to their website      Montana Arts Council Logo linked to their website      Cascade County Logo