The art collection is mostly owned by the Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft. It reflects both the history of the institution and the changing society around it. Equal importance is given to research and to making the collection accessible to the public at large. The collection illuminates art-historical contexts and creates opportunities to experience works of art from various epochs in dynamic dialogue. It serves as the catalyst for exhibition projects, while temporary shows inspire new directions in collecting.
The art collection’s inventory comprises some 4,000 paintings, sculptures and works of other genres, as well as around 100,000 works on paper. Hand drawings, prints and photographs from five centuries are conserved within the Prints and Drawings department, founded in 1915. Roughly two thirds of the art collection come from generous donations and bequests, mainly from Zurich and Switzerland. The entire Paintings and Sculptures collection is documented in a full, published catalogue, which will soon also be made accessible electronically.
The history of the art collection has been exhaustively researched since the 1990s, with particular emphasis on the provenance of works of art acquired during the 1930s and 40s or added later as gifts. The visual dossiers are progressively expanded to incorporate new findings.
The Kunsthaus Zürich boasts a remarkably large and well-stocked, publicly accessible library containing more than 265,000 items, as well as a comprehensive archive available to academic specialists. Maintaining the collections and restoring the works of art is an ongoing project, financed by the Kunsthaus itself as well as additional private funds.