The Harlan Gallery was opened in 1972 in Tucson, Arizona by Roger and Pamela Harlan. The Harlan Gallery concentrated on contemporary artists of the Southwest who had few venues or galleries that were showing contemporary art. Many of the artists that they showcased have gone on to make a name for themselves in the art world and in other media. Some examples would include Jürgen Partenheimer who became one of the foremost contemporary artists working in Germany; Ron Shelton, a screenwriter and director on such films as Bill Durham and White Men Can’t Jump; Karen Truax, a leading female photographer; and Luis Jiménez, a nationally acclaimed sculptor of fiberglass art pieces. These and other Tucson artists were given the opportunity to share their creativity through the Harlan Gallery. The gallery closed in 1978. Shortly after closing, Roger Harlan became the Interim Director at the Tucson Museum of Art, and later was Deputy Director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts in Phoenix. Pamela Harlan helped facilitate the gifting of the Lawrence J. Heller collection, acquired by her father, to the Tucson Museum of Art.
The inclusive dates for this collection are 1967 to 2010, with the bulk of the material dating from 1972 to 1978. The Harlan Galley had close ties to the Tucson Museum of Art and the Phoenix Art Museum, and thus materials including correspondence, exhibition information, and publicity materials are included within the collection. Materials from noteworthy artists that the Harlan Gallery showcased can be found in this collection, including: Luis Jiménez, Nancy Tokar Miller, Ron Shelton, Jim Waid, John Wenger, and Jürgen Partenheimer. Prints, photographic negatives and positives of artwork from these noteworthy artists and others are represented in the collection. It also includes publicity materials such as exhibition catalogs, postcards, and posters that display artwork from Tucson artists. Correspondence from these artists concerning their life and work can be found here as well. Portfolios of silkscreen prints that were created by Tucson artists and published by the Harlan Gallery, in conjunction with the Arizona Theater Company (then known as the Arizona Civic Theater), are also in this collection. Physical artwork from Nancy Tokar Miller, Luis Jiménez, Andrew Rush, Ron Shelton, Jim Waid and other Arizona artists are also present within the collection.