Although never formally trained in the visual arts or art history, Fred Meijer was deeply interested in cultural endeavors and history, and had a long interest in sculpture. In particular, he was initially attracted to historical and figurative statuary in bronze. He began collecting in the mid-1980s according to his own interests. His views broadened in the following years.
In August of 1999, he declared his dream to build a "world-class" sculpture collection, opening a door for collecting beyond his initial personal aesthetic with the betterment and enjoyment of the public in mind. Today, the collection is hailed as among the finest in the world.