Name a New York City institution with a 750,000-piece collection that includes rare books and masterpieces by Velázquez, Goya, and El Greco – Cotta.
Are you in trouble? If you’ve never visited or even heard of the Hispanic Society Museum & Library, you’ll be forgiven for it. It’s a hidden treasure at the north end of Manhattan that was unmounted before a small exhibition in a temporary gallery this year. 10+ year show. In the words of its director, Guillaume Kienz, it had become a “closed institution.” However, in the first quarter of 2023, the first phase of a multi-year redevelopment masterplan, including expanded exhibition space, will open to the public.
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Kientz, a former curator of the Louvre and the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth, who will take over the helm in 2021, says he intends to explore the full spectrum of the collection across countries, cultures and time periods. “There are many stories we can tell, [but] The stories told in the past have always been the same—great stories, but always the same. It was a very static museum,” he says. rob report In a recent helmet tour of the site. “What we want to do now is have a more dynamic institution, rotating collections, telling different stories, telling different sides of the same story.”
The resurgence of the Hispanic Society is thanks to Philippe de Montebello, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who joined the board in 2015 and soon became president. When asked if he accepted the invitation to start programming immediately, he said: I would not have been interested in joining a dying institution trying to maintain its status. I have made it very clear that the institution needs to change significantly.
This association may not be very well known, but if you are a curator of Spanish or Latin American art, No I know that,” says de Montebello. “It’s the best institution.”
Indeed, the Hispanic Association of America got off to a head start under its original name. Railroad heir Archer Huntington founded railroads as a way to give Spain, Portugal, Latin America, the Philippines, and the United States their Hispanic heritage due. He purchased a large plot of land in what is now a thriving Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights and named it Audubon His Terrace (after the naturalist John James His Audubon, the land’s original owner). and). American Indian, American Geographical Society, and several other institutions. This project has become something of a family matter. His cousin Charles Pratt Huntington was the chief architect. Archer’s wife, noted artist Anna Hyatt Her Huntington, created the campus sculpture. His mother, Arabella Huntington, an important collector herself, boosted her son’s passion.
A serious scholar, Archer Huntington organized an exhibition of Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla in 1909. It was a huge hit for its time, and in a month he had 160,000 visitors and the museum was open until 11pm. The following year he commissioned his Sorolla to paint a series of vibrant murals depicting the provinces of Spain. Valencian oranges, Catalan fishing and Aragonese dancing. We expect similar enthusiasm when the space reopens in 2023, the 100th anniversary of the artist’s death. Also in the proceedings: a tribute to Picasso and Jesus Raphael Soto.
For various reasons, exhibitions became sporadic in the second half of the 20th century, and society became more research-oriented. When De Montebello stepped in, he quickly pitched a best-hit touring show, both for publicity and profit, but the building had to be vacated for renovation. Acclaimed at the Prado Museum in Madrid, and after a few more stops, it arrives at the Royal Academy in London on January 21st, when the treasure returns to New York.
De Montebello delved into another issue. The Hispanic Society was comfortable in his first century thanks to donations, but needs to generate new revenue streams to compete in modern times. “I said I couldn’t continue to run an institution that had five board members there all the time and had no money at all,” he said before donating.
Since then, the board has quadrupled in size. An International Advisory Committee (IAC) has also been established, currently consisting of about 35 members, each of whom contributes $10,000 annually. “If you’re good at math, $350,000 a year is a lot,” says de Montebello. In addition, it will be a farm team on the board. One of the things I asked of his IAC members is that he be biblical. Once a year, he goes from 35 to 70, assuming one friend of hers joins the entire IAC. “
The board commissioned Selldorf Architects and Beyer Blinder Bell, landscape architect Reed Hilderbrand to create a redevelopment masterplan. Annabelle Selldorf, a master of historic restoration, is well known for her meticulous work in places such as her Neue Gallery and Clarke Her Art Her Institute, and is currently expanding her Flick collection. Beyer Blinder is working with her bell. “She is very good at finding imaginative solutions and making them modern while still preserving the soul, spirit of the place,” says Kientz.
Selldorf, who recalls being “fascinated” when he first saw the Hispanic Association, described the project as “a once-in-a-lifetime job” and was “very much into reimagining and preserving a building that has so much to offer.” is worth it,” he said.
In de Montebello’s view, the next challenge is to persuade people who aren’t geographically adventurous to travel uptown. “I think people have a mental block about going to his 156th Street or Broadway,” he says. “It sounds like going to Vermont or Quebec.” I estimate it will take. “I’ve done both,” he insists. “The Hispanic Society is much closer.”
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