The American Visionary Art Museum defines Visionary Art as "art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself." Unlike folk art, which comes out of a specifically identifiable tradition, visionary art is entirely spontaneous and individualized. Visionary artists "hear their own inner voice so resoundingly that they may not even think of what they do as 'art.'"
The permanent collection, numbering more than 4,000 pieces, includes works created by self-taught artists who lived hundreds of years ago, as well as contemporary work. Approximately 50 works of intuitive creative invention are on view at any one time in the Permanent Collection Gallery.
The museum features one thematic exhibition each year, as well as displaying items that are on long-term loan.