|Established||May 18, 1904|
|Location||New York City|
|Type|| Art museum |
|Collection size||6,800 paintings|
|Public transit access|| Subway: at 157th Street |
Bus: Bx6, Bx6 SBS, M4, M5, M100
The Hispanic Society of America operates a museum and reference library for the study of the arts and cultures of Spain and Portugal and their former colonies in Latin America, the Philippines, and Portuguese India. Despite the name, it has never functioned as a learned society.
Founded in 1904 by philanthropist Archer M. Huntington, the institution continues to operate at its original location in a 1908 Beaux Arts building on Audubon Terrace in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. A second building, on the north side of the terrace, was added in 1930. Exterior sculpture in front of that building includes work by Anna Hyatt Huntington and nine major reliefs by the Swiss-American sculptor Berthold Nebel, a commission that took ten years to complete. The Hispanic Society complex was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2012. In 2021, the museum expanded into the former home of the Museum of the American Indian, adjacent to the museum's original building.
The museum contains more than 18,000 works in every medium, ranging from prehistoric times to the 20th century. The collection includes important paintings by Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Goya, El Greco, and Joaquín Sorolla, among others. It also includes sculpture and architectural elements, furniture and metalwork, ceramics and textiles.
The Sorolla Room, which was reinstalled in 2010, displays Vision of Spain , 14 massive paintings commissioned by Archer Huntington in 1911. Sorolla completed these works from 1913 to 1919. These paintings total more than 200 linear feet (61 m); they ring the large room and depict scenes from the regions of Spain.
The library contains more than 250,000 books; 200,000 documents; 175,000 photographs; and 15,000 prints. The rare books library maintains 15,000 books printed before 1700, including a first edition of Don Quijote. It also holds the manuscript Black Book of Hours, Horae Beatae Virginis Mariae ad usum Romanum (circa 1458), one of only a handful of such works, and the enormous Map of the World (1526) by Juan Vespucio.
The society has been described as "perhaps New York's most misunderstood institution", because it was established to concentrate on Old Spain and its culture in its colonies, as opposed to Hispanic American culture, despite its location in what has over time become a predominately Hispanic (chiefly Dominican) neighborhood.In 2012 it was suggested that the museum (although not the society) be renamed the "Archer M. Huntington Museum of Art" to clarify this distinction, but the name change was never pursued.
In April 2015 the society announced the appointment of Philippe de Montebello to chair the society's Board of Overseers and spearhead a major effort to roughly double the museum's size by renovating the vacant Beaux Arts building adjacent to the society's original museum building. It was formerly used by the Museum of the American Indian, which had moved years before to the former U.S. Custom House in lower Manhattan.
Beginning January 1, 2017, the museum was closed for extensive renovations, although the library was open on a limited basis by appointment only. The $15 million project will replace the building's roof and lighting.Originally scheduled to reopen in the fall of 2019, the main museum is still closed as of early 2022, but the new East Building Gallery, formerly the Museum of the American Indian, was opened in 2021 for rotating exhibitions.
While the museum was closed, many of its works were lent to other institutions. About 200 of the society's most important works were displayed from April through September 2017 at the Museo del Prado in Madrid.The exhibit traveled to the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City from June through September 2018; the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, November 2018 through March 2019; the Cincinnati Art Museum, October 2019 through January 2020; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston from March to May 2020.
Admission to the museum has always been free, in accordance with Archer Huntington's trust. Due to financial difficulties, the society went to court in 2016 in order to be allowed to charge an admission fee to temporary exhibitions to be held in the museum's new facility, while keeping the main hall free.As of 2022, admission to the new galleries is free.
In 2020 the museum appointed Guillaume Kientz, former curator at the Louvre and the Kimbell Art Museum, as its new director.
Tourism in Spain is a major contributor to national economic life, contributing to about 11.8% of Spain's GDP. Ever since the 1960s and 1970s, the country has been a popular destination for summer holidays, especially with large numbers of tourists from the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, the Benelux, and the United States, among others. Accordingly, Spain's foreign tourist industry has grown into the second-biggest in the world.
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Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida was a Spanish painter. Sorolla excelled in the painting of portraits, landscapes and monumental works of social and historical themes. His most typical works are characterized by a dexterous representation of the people and landscape under the bright sunlight of Spain and sunlit water.
Archer Milton Huntington was a philanthropist and scholar, primarily known for his contributions to the field of Hispanic Studies. He founded The Hispanic Society of America in New York City, and made numerous contributions to the American Geographical Society.
The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin is one of the largest university art museums in the U.S. with 189,340 square feet devoted to temporary exhibitions, permanent collection galleries, storage, administrative offices, classrooms, a print study room, an auditorium, shop, and cafe. The Blanton's permanent collection consists of more than 21,000 works, with significant holdings of modern and contemporary art, Latin American art, Old Master paintings, and prints and drawings from Europe, the United States, and Latin America.
The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is an art museum located in the city of Bilbao, Spain. The building of the museum is located entirely inside the city's Doña Casilda Iturrizar park.
Arabella Duval Huntington was an American philanthropist and once known as the richest woman in the country. She was the force behind the art collection that is housed at the Huntington Library in California.
Emilio Sanchez (1921–1999) was a Cuban-American artist known for his architectural paintings and graphic lithographs. His work is found in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana, Bogotá Museum of Modern Art, La Tertulia Museum, and the National Gallery of Australia.
Audubon Terrace, also known as the Audubon Terrace Historic District, is a landmark complex of eight early-20th century Beaux Arts/American Renaissance buildings located on the west side of Broadway, bounded by West 155th and West 156th Streets, in the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan, New York City. Home to several cultural institutions, the architecturally complementary buildings, which take up most of a city block, are arranged in two parallel rows facing each other across a common plaza. The complex is directly across 155th Street from Trinity Church Cemetery.
Alpheus Hyatt Mayor (1901–1980) was an American art historian and curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a leading figure in the study of prints, both old master prints and popular prints.
Brenda Putnam was an American sculptor, teacher and author.
The Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernández Blanco is a museum of art located in the Retiro ward of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
William Edward Bloomfield Starkweather was a painter, teacher, and writer, known for impressionist landscape paintings and book illustrations. He is also known for his research and writings on other painters, and was at one time considered "one of the greatest authorities on Goya".
Walk on the beach, is a 1909 oil on canvas painting by the Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla.
Beatrice Irene Gilman Proske was an art historian, specifically in Spanish and American sculpture. She was an early employee of the Hispanic Society of America in New York City, with a specialty in sculpture. Her expertise expanded to American sculpture with her work at Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, and she died an honorary trustee. Her work also included advising the magazine of the National Sculpture Society. She was the author of preeminent studies on Spanish sculpture and American sculpture.
Elena Sorolla García was an early 20th-century Spanish sculptor and painter. She devoted her youth to sculpture, having a brief career that she left behind to dedicate herself to her family after marrying Victoriano Lorente in 1922. Most of her works are part of private collections, with the exception of some that belong to the Sorolla Museum. She was the youngest daughter of painter Joaquín Sorolla and curator Clotilde García del Castillo.
Elizabeth du Gué Trapier (1893-1974) was a Spanish art expert. After graduating in library sciences, she was one of a select group of women chosen by Archer Milton Huntington, with her focus on paintings and drawings.
Clara Louisa Penney was a curator of manuscripts and rare books for the Hispanic Society of America in New York City.
Sad Inheritance! is an 1899 oil painting by Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla. The painting was held by Episcopal Church of the Ascension in New York for many years, until it was bought in 1981 by the Savings Bank of Valencia.
Vision of Spain, also known as The Provinces of Spain, is a 1913–19 series of 14 monumental canvases by Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla depicting the customs, costumes, and traditions of regions of Spain. The series was commissioned by Archie Huntington for the Hispanic Society of America.
And though its name suggests a connection to the mostly Latino neighborhood it inhabits, the museum primarily celebrates the Old World cultures of Spain and Portugal, not the arts and traditions of the New World lands they colonized. The potential audience just outside the museum’s doors has never had much contact with it.
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