In 2005 the Hammer launched an initiative to build a collection of contemporary art.

This growing collection is led by works on paper–particularly drawings and photographs–but also includes painting, sculpture, and media arts. Particular attention is paid to works by artists from Southern California, but the collection represents artists working throughout the United States and internationally.

When possible, artists are represented in depth, and works are often acquired in tandem with exhibitions at the Hammer, particularly from the Hammer Projects series.