The Mattress Factory is a research and development lab for artists. As a museum of contemporary art, it commissions new site-specific works, presents them to the widest possible audience and maintains selected individual installations in a growing - and distinctive - permanent collection. The Mattress Factory's physical and organizational environments have developed out of and responded to a central focus in the creative process.
In 1975 the Mattress Factory acquires 500 Sampsonia Way, formerly an abandoned Stearns & Foster warehouse built at the turn of the century.
In 1977 the Mattress Factory becomes a legal non-profit educational/cultural corporation with a board of directors.
The first exhibition of installations opens on May 8, 1982, featuring site-specific work by Athena Tacha, Michael Olijnyk and Diane Samuels.
James Turrell creates and exhibits Danae and Pleiades, the first works in Mattress Factory's permanent collection, in 1983.
The Mattress Factory purchases three more buildings in 1986 - one at 1414 Monterey Street that becomes a new gallery space, and two on North Taylor Street that become artist residences.
The museum purchases an empty lot at 505 Jacksonia Street, as well as the lot adjacent to it in 1990. The lot at 505 Jacksonia became a parking lot for museum visitors, while the adjacent lot became a garden created by artist Winifred Lutz.
In 1994 the Mattress Factory became the first museum in the United States to exhibit work by the controversial artist Damien Hirst.
The Mattress Factory has supported more than 500 artists-in-residence.
There are 17 permanent installations on continuous display, including important works by James Turrell, Bill Woodrow, Allan Wexler, William Anastasi, Dove Bradshaw, Jene Highstein, Rolf Julius, Yayoi Kusama, Winifred Lutz, Greer Lankton, Vanessa Sica & Chris Kasabach, and Monica M. Bock, Mary Carlisle, Cathy Lynn Gasser, Melissa Goldstein, Sandrine Sheon and Catherine Smith (collaboration).
Annually, more than 600,000 unique users access the Mattress Factory's web site, www.mattress.org.