The Yellowstone Art Museum collects American art with an emphasis on progressive contemporary art from the northern Rocky Mountain and northern Plains regions. Collecting began soon after the museum’s founding in 1964. In 1984, with a major grant from the Montana Cultural Trust (coal tax fund) and generous donations from private individuals, the YAM began to build what is now the largest permanent collection of significant contemporary art of the region.
Today all of the permanent collections number over 7,300 objects, including both art works and archival pieces.
The Montana Collection is the defining collection, including nearly 2,000 works of art inspired by the realities of today's West.
The Edith Freeman collection at the Yellowstone Art Museum consists of over sixty woodblock prints the majority of which were given by the Edith Freeman Estate in 1993 with the cooperation of her brother and estate executor, Floyd Maxwell.
The Poindexter Collection of New York Abstract Expressionist art came to the Yellowstone Art Museum in several lots over many years from the family of George and Elinor Poindexter.
The Virginia Snook Collection comprises the work of regionally important author and illustrator Will James (1892-1942). It is the largest collection of Will James’s work in a museum anywhere.
The Vogels made an unprecedented gift to the nation, distributing gifts of fifty artworks to one museum in each of the fifty states.