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On the Collections homepage, you can choose to view a selection of objects illustrating particular themes, aspects of the collection, highlights of a particular time period or curators' choices. You can name these groupings in order to indicate clearly the type of works or themes that the collection illustrates. The groupings are listed as a series of links under "Collections" in the main navigation bar to the left.

Mummy Mask, 332 BC-330 AD (late Ptolemaic to early Roman period)
Egyptian; Egypt, Africa 
Linen, plaster, gold leaf and pigment; 15 × 12 3/4 × 10 1/2 in.
Gift of Mrs. Ramona Ward

Collections Highlights

The Bowers Museum began assembling its permanent collection even before the doors opened to the public. In that time the collections have grown into a unique and eclectic group with something to hold the interest of anyone. It is impossible to say what is the single most important artwork at the Bowers, but this list includes some of the very best works that the Bowers has to offer.


Marguerite, c. 1909
Guy Rose (American, 1867-1925)
Oil on canvas; 21 1/2 x 24 1/2 x 2 in.
Martha C. Stevens Memorial Art Collection

Fine Art

The Bowers Museum holds a collection of nearly 2,000 paintings, almost all of which were painted between the late 19th century through the 20th century. Highlights of this collection are a group of 40 paintings by William and Alberta McCloskey and a California plein air collection.

Browse Collection: FINE ART

Statue of Saint Anthony of Padua, c. 1800
Made in Mexico; used in California
Wood, gesso, paint, cloth, glass and silver; 64 in.
Gift of Rosita Yorba Locke

Historic and Decorative Arts Collection

The objects from this collection were among the first to be collected by the museum. This varied collection includes more than 12,000 objects including historic costumes, military uniforms and textiles, furniture, dolls and toys, tools and house wares. Many of these objects were collected from the founding families of Orange County by the museum`s first curator, Mrs. Coulter.

Also among the original collection of the Bowers is the Orange County history collection. Largely archival, this collection of nearly 30,000 objects contains historic newspapers, magazines and other publications, photographs and art and objects relating to the early days of Orange County. Highlights of this collection include more than 300 objects relating to Madame Helena Modjeska and memorabilia and objects from the first police and fire departments of Santa Ana.


Feast Bowl, late 19th Century
Matankol culture; Lou Island, Admiralty Islands, Manus Province, Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia
Wood and parinarium nut paste; 23 3/4 × 54 × 41 in.
Bowers Museum Purchase

New Acquisitions

The majority of the artwork in the Bowers collection has been generously donated to the museum. New artwork is acquired regularly. The Bowers Museum would not have the world class collection that it does without the support and generosity of its donors. This section is by no means a complete listing of all new acquisitions, but serves more to highlight some of the new acquisitions and will be updated as new works are acquired.

Browse Collection: NEW ACQUISITIONS

Tom Morris, Sprinter, c. 1890
B.F. Conaway Studios, Santa Ana, California
Albumen print on board; 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 in. 
Donor unknown

Photographic Art Collection and Archives

The photographic and archival area of the Bowers collection holds more than 30,000 objects making it the largest section of the permanent collections. The collection includes books, maps, posters, stereographs and slides but is most noteable for photographs documenting the early days of Orange County.


Chair, early 20th-mid 20th Century
Chokwe people; Rebublic of Angola
Wood, metal and leather; 19 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 13 in.
Gift of the Roschen Family Trust

Art of Africa

African art is one of the Bowers` smaller collections, numbering just over 2,100 objects. This collection is strongest in art from the cultures of West Africa. The majority of the artwork represented in this collection is wood sculpture and masks but also includes weapons, jewelry and currency.

Browse Collection: THE ART OF AFRICA

Guanyin Seated on a Lotus Flower, late Ming Dynasty (1600-1643)
Han culture; China
Wood and pigments; 49 x 16 x 11 in.
Gift of Anne and Long Shung Shih

Art of Asia

Art from China and Japan make up the majority of this collection, numbering more than 6,000 objects. Recently, Bowers has been actively collecting jewelry, ornamentation and textiles from the native tribal cultures of China. Objects from the Asian collection range in date from Neolithic to 20th Century.

Browse Collection: THE ART OF ASIA

Amulet (Hei Tiki), 18th Century
Maori culture; New Zealand, Polynesia, Oceania
Nephrite and sealing wax; 3 x 2 x 1/2 in.
Bowers Museum Purchase

Art of Oceania

This collection includes art and artifacts from many of the Pacific Islands. Objects from Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya make up largest part of this collection though other areas of Melanesia, Polynesia and Australia are also represented. There are more than 2,400 objects ranging in age from pre-historic to contemporary. Objects in the art of the Pacific collection are varied including basketry, pottery, feather work, weapons, wooden sculpture, food bowls and utensils, jewelry and costume.

Browse Collection: THE ART OF OCEANIA

Standing Female Figure, c. 300-550 A.D.
Remojadas culture; Veracruz, Mexico
Ceramic and black pitch; 25 x 16 15/16 x 6 1/8 in.
Gift of Peter G. Wray

Art of the Americas

The Bowers Museum's Art of the Americas is comprised of objects from throughout the Americas. The arts of Native North American is represented by more than 24,000 objects. The collection is strongest in the cultures of the west and southwest but does represent native cultures from across the US. Objects in the collection include basketry, pottery, beadwork, stone and shell tools weapons and jewelry. These objects range in age from pre-historic to contemporary.

A South American Ethnographic Collection consists of nearly 1400 objects: feather works, tools, hunting implements, baskets, textiles and other three dimensional objects dating mostly from the 20th century.

The Bowers holds nearly 4,000 objects of Pre-Columbian art. Almost entirely pottery, with some textile, stone and metal pieces, this collection is strongest in sculpture from the ancient cultures of West Mexico. Bowers also holds collections of Mayan artwork as well as objects from pre-Columbian Peru.

Browse Collection: THE ART OF THE AMERICAS

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