About the Museum

Norton Simon MuseumThe Norton Simon Museum is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Over a thirty-year period 20th-century industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. Among the most celebrated works he collected are Branchini Madonna, 1427, by Giovanni di Paolo; Madonna and Child with Book, c. 1502-03, by Raphael; Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose, 1633, by Francisco de Zurbarán; Portrait of a Boy, c. 1655-60, by Rembrandt van Rijn; Mulberry Tree, 1889, by Vincent van Gogh; Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, 1878-81, by Edgar Degas; and Woman with a Book, 1932, by Pablo Picasso. Highlights from the Asian collection include the bronze sculptures Buddha Shakyamuni, c. 550, India: Bihar, Gupta period, and Shiva as King of Dance, c. 1000, India: Tamil Nadu; and the gilt bronze Indra, 13th century, Nepal.

In 1974, Norton Simon and a reorganized Board of Trustees assumed control of the Pasadena Art Museum, taking up management of its building and incorporating its important collection of 20th-century European and American art with the outstanding collections of the Norton Simon foundations. Highlights from the PAM collection include the Galka Scheyer Blue Four Collection, a body of works by artists Lyonel Feininger, Paul Klee, Alexei Jawlensky, Vasily Kandinsky and others assembled by art dealer, scholar and muse Galka Scheyer; post-war American art, particularly from Southern California-based artists including John Altoon, Larry Bell, Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner, Richard Diebenkorn, Llyn Foulkes, Sam Francis, George Herms, Robert Irwin, and Ed Ruscha; and a photography collection comprised of works by Ansel Adams, Lewis Baltz, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Imogen Cunningham, Frederick Sommer, Edward Weston, and Minor White, among others.

Artwork in the museumApproximately 1,000 works from the permanent collection of 12,000 objects are on view in the Norton Simon Museum’s galleries and sculpture garden throughout the year. There are two temporary exhibition spaces within the Museum; the curatorial department mounts three to five exhibitions centered on the collection, and one special masterpiece loan, per year. To extend the impact of these exhibitions and to explore genres and themes within the permanent collection, the Museum offers six to ten free public programs per month, including scholarly lectures and symposia, adult education courses, music and dance performances and hands-on activities for children.  Private tours are available by reservation.

The Norton Simon Art Foundation actively produces scholarly publications focused on segments of the collections on view at the Museum. Editions include The Blue Four Collection at the Norton Simon Museum (2002), the three-volume Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum (2003-2004), The Collectible Moment: Photographs in the Norton Simon Museum (2006), Nineteenth-Century Art in the Norton Simon Museum (volume I) (2006), Degas in the Norton Simon Museum: Nineteenth-Century Art, Vol. 2 (2009), Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best (2010), and Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California (2011).