For more than one hundred years, the visual arts have been an important part of the collecting mission of the Louisiana State Museum. Early supporters such as Gaspar Cusachs, J.J. Wilkins, John T. Block, and T. P. Thompson established a core collection before World War I, donating treasures such as Louis-Antoine Collas's 1821 miniature portrait of Madame Andry, lithographs by Jules Lion made in the 1840s, cityscapes and maritime paintings by August Norieri, a view of St. Augustine Church Dumaine & St. Claude Streets by Paul Poincy, and early prints of New Orleans by John T. Hammond. In addition, Dr. I.M. Cline, a Tulane professor and art dealer, sold and later donated hundreds of paintings and prints to the museum. Nineteenth-century portraiture remains a focus, but from the onset the Louisiana State Museum collected contemporary paintings, drawings, and photographs. This continues today with acquisitions of photography related to Hurricane Katrina and an outstanding collection of Louisiana visionary art - notably Sister Gertrude Morgan and Clementine Hunter.
The Museum continues to accession visual arts though purchase and donation. Recent acquisitions include an 1860 view of the Davidson Family home on St. Charles Street by Johann Wilhelm Rümpler, donated by the daughters of Charlotte E. Davidson; portraits of James and Mary Trezevant by John Antrobus, donated by Robert Trezevant; portraits of Cornelius and Eleonore Hurst by Jean Joseph Vaudechamp, donated by Mary Swift; Hunt for Oil, a print by Dan Tague purchased from the artist; and Crucifixion and African Head, two sculptures by Emerson Bell acquired from his estate.
The collection now includes more than 150,000 photographs; about 2,000 paintings; nearly 15,000 works on paper; and a few hundred sculptures. Media include paintings, miniatures, drawings, watercolors, prints, postcards, photographs, and sculpture. Taken together, the collection comprises one of the most comprehensive and encyclopedic collections of Southern art in the country.