The Haifa Museum of Art Collection contains approximately 7,500 works by Israeli and international artists. The first works were purchased following the founding of the Museum in 1953 by its first director, Dr. Fritz Schiff. The collection was significantly enriched between the years 1964 and 1989 by the Museum's second director, Gabriel Tadmor. Over time, the collection was enhanced by the Museum's chief curators and directors, and its eclectic character reflects a wide range of trends and movements in Israeli art.
The collection is composed of two main subdivisions: the painting and sculpture collection, and the collection of graphic works. The painting and sculpture collection includes works by veteran Israeli artists such as Yosef Zaritsky, Avigdor Stematsky, Mordechai Ardon and Leah Nikel. It also includes works by artists who came of age during the 1960s and 1970s, such as Raffi Lavie, Yair Garbuz, Moshe Gershuni, Motti Mizrahi, Michal Na'aman, Deganit Berest, David Reeb and Tsibi Geva. The sculpture collection includes works by Yigal Tumarkin, Yehiel Shemi, Itzhak Danziger, Yaakov Durchin and Uri Katzenstein. In addition, the Museum has put an emphasis on enriching the collection with the works of artists from Haifa and the north of Israel; it thus includes numerous works by Ori Reisman, Moshe Kupferman, Michael Gross and others. The international collection includes works by artists such as Max Lieberman, Diego Rivera, Marc Chagall and Chana Orloff.
The collection of works on paper includes gouache paintings and watercolors, charcoal, ink and chalk drawings, silkscreen prints and etchings by prominent Israeli artists. Especially noteworthy are the hundreds of works by Herman Struck, and a significant donation of approximately 150 works on paper by Pinchas Cohen Gan. International art comprises approximately a third of the Museum's collection of works on paper; it includes series of works by masters such as Honoré Daumier, Odilon Redon, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Käthe Kolowitz, Georg Gross, James Ensor and André Masson. The collection of international prints includes thousands of prints from the mid-18th century to the present.
In recent years, the Museum has reactivated its acquisition fund; it has focused on the acquisition of contemporary Israeli art by young artists, as well as of Israeli video works from the 1970s. The works are chosen with the purpose of enhancing the existing collection, and of creating a coherent continuum of works. The acquisition fund's focus has been on the iconic, museal quality of works that best represent their creators. Recently acquired works include paintings, sculptures, photographs, video works and insallations.
A unique component of the Museum collection is the New Media Center's archive. The New Media Center has grown over recent years in the course of research for the exhibition series "Videostoria," which focuses on the history of Israeli video art in the context of international video art. The works currently housed in the New Media Center were collected as part of this research process, which involves the preservation of old materials and the acquisition of new works by Israeli and international artists. So far, the Center has collected approximately 75 video works. This comprehensive process was undertaken with the goal of creating the first Israeli library/archive of video art, and of making its contents accessible to the general public.
An additional platform for exhibiting works from the collection is the series of exhibitions "Personal Choices," which was inaugurated in 2006. Within the framework of this new exhibition series, prominent intellectuals and artworld figures are invited to present their personal selections from the Museum collection, and to write an essay about their choices.