Hispanic Society of America

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Hispanic Society of America
Hispanic Society museum building on Audubon Terrace
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Location of the Hispanic Society in New York City
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Hispanic Society of America (New York)
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Hispanic Society of America (the United States)
EstablishedMay 18, 1904;116 years ago (1904-05-18)
Location New York City
Coordinates 40°50′01″N73°56′47″W / 40.833521°N 73.946514°W / 40.833521; -73.946514
Type Art museum
Research library
Collection size6,800 paintings
1,000 sculptures
175,000 photographs
250,000 books
DirectorMitchell Codding
Public transit access Subway: NYCS-bull-trans-1-Std.svg at 157th Street
Bus: Bx6, Bx6 SBS, M4, M5, M100
Website Official website OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
The Hispanic Society's 1930 north building (left) and sculptures WTM NewYorkDolls 010.jpg
The Hispanic Society's 1930 north building (left) and sculptures
Certificate of member for Benito Perez Galdos. MemberHispanicSociety.jpg
Certificate of member for Benito Pérez Galdós.

The Hispanic Society of America is 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 (at 155th Street and Broadway) in the lower Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City in the United States. 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.

The museum and library have been closed since 2017 for a major renovation. The library and the Sorolla gallery are open by appointment. [1]

Much of the collection is on loan to other institutions during this period.[ citation needed ]


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.

A major component of this museum is the Sorolla Room, which was reinstalled in 2010. It displays The Provinces 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. [2]

Expansion and renovations

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 US Custom House in Lower Manhattan. [3]

Beginning January 1, 2017, the museum is closed for extensive renovations, although the library is open on a limited basis by appointment only. The $15 million project will replace the building's roof and lighting. [4] Originally scheduled to reopen in the fall of 2019, the museum is still closed as of late 2020, in part because of effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the museum is closed, many of its works are being 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. [5] 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. [6] [7]

Admission to the museum has always been free, in accordance with Archer Huntington's trust. But 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. [8]

In 2020 the museum appointed Guillaume Kientz, former curator at the Louvre and the Kimbell Art Museum, as its new director. [9]

Notable people

See also

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Archer Milton Huntington

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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.

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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.

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".

<i>Walk on the Beach</i>

Walk on the beach, is a 1909 oil on canvas painting by the Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla.

Beatrice Gilman Proske

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.

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.

<i>Vision of Spain</i>

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.

Carlos Vázquez Úbeda

Carlos Vázquez Úbeda was a Spanish painter, illustrator and poster artist.


  1. Figueroa, Mencía. "Hispanic Society Museum & Library to present Treasures Exhibition at tbe Prado". Hispanic Society of America. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  2. Lee, Felicia R. (November 11, 2011). "An Outpost for Old Spain in the Heights". New York Times .
  3. Catton, Pia (April 20, 2015). "New Chairman Hopes to Boost Profile of Often-Overlooked Museum". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  4. Hispanic Society of America to Close on New Year's Day for More Than 2 Years, ny1.com, December 30, 2016, accessed March 2, 2017
  5. Museo del Prado News, accessed March 2, 2017
  6. Roberts, Kathleen (October 28, 2018). "ABQ first U.S. stop for historic collection of art". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  7. Newsletter of the Hispanic Society, February 2020
  8. Hispanic Society is so broke it's asking to charge visitors, New York Post , August 6, 2016, accessed March 2, 2017
  9. "Guillaume Kientz Named Director at Hispanic Society". Hispanic Network Magazine | A Hispanic News Source. December 27, 2020. Retrieved December 29, 2020.

Further reading

Coordinates: 40°50′01″N73°56′47″W / 40.833521°N 73.946514°W / 40.833521; -73.946514