The collection of "Painting and Sculpture" primarily surveys the history of art by African American artists from the late 19th century to the early 1970s and includes a few works by European, African, Caribbean and South American artists. The majority of works represent the New Negro Renaissance, the Works Projects Administration (WPA), and post-World War II eras. Urban genre themes and the descriptions of African American life dominate the work from this period. Other subjects include landscapes and portraiture. There are also several non-figurative and abstract works from the 1950s forward. Included in the collection are major works by important African American Artists such as Edward Mitchell Bannister, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Meta Vaux Warrick-Fuller, European artists Pretro Calvi and Charles Henri Joseph Cordier of the nineteenth century.
Among American artists of the twentieth century in the collection are Aaron Douglas, William Ernest Braxton, William Edouard Scott, Augusta Savage, Horace Pippin, Richmond Barthe, Norman Lewis, Hale Woodruff, Archiebald Motley, Palmer Hayden, Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, William T. Williams, Richard Hunt, Sam Middleton, Ed Clark, Vivian Brown, Emma Amos, Mel Edwards, Houston Conwill and David Hammons. Among the Caribbean artists in the collection are Pastor Argudin y Pedroso, and Tedoro Ramos Blanco, Wilson Biguard and Amos Ferguson. Brazilian artists represented are Emanoel Araujo, Terciliano and Edison da Luz of Brazil. There is also a small collection of contemporary African art representing Oshogbo art produced in Nigeria in the 1960s. Painting mediums represented are: oil, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, batik and collage. Sculpting mediums are: wood, bronze, plaster, terra cotta, and mixed media materials.