The Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art at The University of Alabama includes one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of 20th-century African American art in the world, amassed over decades by Paul Raymond Jones, who has been described by Art & Antiques magazine as “one of the top art collectors in the country.” Jones donated the 1,700-plus piece collection valued at more than $10.3 million to the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Alabama in October 2008. An additional 300 works were added in 2013, bringing the total to over 2,000 works. The collection includes art in a variety of media from more than 600 artists.
In 2001, Jones donated 1,000 pieces of art and photography to the University of Delaware. Today, this portion of the Jones collection is displayed in the Mechanical Hall Gallery on the UD campus.
With these gifts, Jones wished to preserve the legacy of artists, especially African-American artists, spark the interest of future art collectors, and help elevate African-American art in the eyes of the art world. Jones also wanted to ensure that this genre of art, an intrinsic part of the history and totality of American art, is never lost or forgotten.
The Paul R. Jones Collection is designed to share the works of American artists and their significance with the people of Alabama and beyond and to be used to educate students on the importance of art in life. Works from the collection are on exhibit year-round at the Paul R. Jones Museum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and are exhibited in galleries and museums on the University of Alabama campus and at other educational institutions and venues. The collection is incorporated into curricula at The University of Alabama, providing students with opportunities to learn and experience the significance of the art firsthand.