What is the Portable Works Collection?
Did you know that Scottsdale Public Art has a collection of more than 1,000 mostly 2-D artworks as a part of Scottsdale’s public art collection? Learn about the Municipal Collection, also known as the Portable Works Collection, why it exists, and where you can see it with Wendy Raisanen, Scottsdale Public Art’s curator of exhibitions and collections.
Long before Scottsdale began commissioning public art, the city had an art collection dating back to at least 1968, when a few citizens donated mostly 2-D artworks to adorn the public buildings in Scottsdale. In the 1970s, before Scottsdale Arts existed, the city showed art exhibits in the Civic Center Library, which was much smaller then.
There are now about 1,000 pieces in the Portable Works Collection, which represents a wide variety of art collecting over the years, from psychedelic paintings, Native American blankets, and a suede wall-hanging to photographs, paintings, and sculptures. City employees can pick out artworks from a vault managed by Scottsdale Public Art, and we install them with security hardware in their offices, including little plaques that identify the artist, title, date, and donor credit. There is one artwork that has “Gift of Peace” as its credit line.
Everyone’s artistic taste is unique and unpredictable. Some folks come in and don’t see anything they like, and many others find something that sparks joy for them. The collection runs from the strange to the sublime. I love it when someone comes in saying they don’t know anything about art, and they end up with a great original work to enjoy in their office. See? You do like art!
We do have a selection process for accepting donations from people. The work must be in good shape and of good quality. We have a lot of artwork by local artists and work by international artists too. About 80 percent of the artwork in the collection is on display somewhere in city buildings, whether public or private areas. Employees in City Hall, libraries, police and fire stations, and city offices for departments like accounting and risk management may all have original artwork in their offices.
— Wendy Raisanen, curator of exhibitions and collections, Scottsdale Public Art
Maybe you would like to donate something to our collection? We’re always open to offers. The work will be enjoyed by the people of Scottsdale for years to come. You can find out more about our donation process by reaching out to Wendy Raisanen directly at WendyR@ScottsdaleArts.org.