Hispanic Society of America

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Hispanic Society of America museum building

The Hispanic Society of America is dedicated to the art and culture of Spain , Portugal and Latin America . Founded in 1904 by Archer Milton Huntington , the institution is located in New York City and includes a museum and library. The collection includes paintings, handicrafts, prints, photographs, manuscripts, maps and more than 250,000 books.

History and location

Exterior of the museum with the El Cid sculpture by Anna Hyatt Huntington
Gallery room with painting collection

The American philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington (1870–1955) was heir to one of the richest families of his time. As a teenager he had visited Spain and Mexico with his parents and showed great interest in the culture of these countries. He learned Spanish and Arabic and began building an extensive collection of paintings and other objets d'art, books, manuscripts, coins, ceramics, and textiles. His collections mainly comprised objects from Spain, Portugal and Latin America .

In 1904 he founded the Hispanic Society of America in New York (analogously: American Society for Hispanic Studies ). He chose the name because the institution should be more than a museum and library for its collections, but also a scientific institution for researching the cultures of the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America. However, this scientific enterprise never started its activity.

Huntington, who himself lived on Fifth Avenue near Central Park , deliberately chose Broadway in Washington Heights in north Manhattan rather than the bustling center of New York as the location for the Hispanic Society of America . Huntington acquired a piece of land here between 155th Street and 156th Street, known as Audubon Terrace . The place is named after the ornithologist and draftsman John James Audubon , who lived here until his death in 1851. The still underdeveloped area was only opened up in 1906 when the underground railway was extended to the north. The building for the Hispanic Society of America was designed by Charles Pratt Huntington , a cousin of Archer Milton Huntington. The building, designed in the style of Beaux Arts architecture , was opened in 1908. Charles Pratt Huntington also designed the extension to the west wing, which was completed in 1915. There was also an east wing designed by Erik Strindberg and the library built between 1923 and 1930 based on designs by H. Brooks Price .

Archer Milton Huntington came up with the idea to establish a science campus for the Hispanic Society of America. He therefore invited several institutions to relocate to Audubon Terrace. The American Numismatic Society and the American Geographical Society , the Museum of the American Indian and the American Academy of Arts and Letters followed the invitation until 1930 . In addition, Archer Milton Huntington had the Church of Our Lady of Esperanza Church built on Audubon Terrace. Several institutions have left Audubon Terrace since 1978, with only the Hispanic Society of America and the American Academy of Arts and Letters remaining on site. Both institutions were able to move into additional buildings and Boricua College was added as a new neighbor.

For 2017, the Hispanic Society of America was awarded the Princess of Asturias Prize for International Cooperation.


Room with paintings by Joaquín Sorolla

The Hispanic Society of America Museum has an extensive collection of 800 paintings, 600 watercolors, 1,000 sculptures, 6,000 handicrafts, and approximately 175,000 photographs. Originally, the museum also had an important coin collection. The Hispanic Society of America auctioned the 38,000 coins in 2012 in order to raise funds for their purchase budget.

The museum's collection of paintings includes works from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. These mainly include works by Spanish artists. The museum owns El Greco's paintings Holy Family , Pieta , Portrait of a Man , Portrait of St. Francis , St. Jerome in Prayer and Portrait of an Evangelist . In addition, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo 's painting Prodigal Son , Francisco de Zurbarán's depictions of St. Lucia and St. Rufina, and Juan Carreño de Miranda's picture of the Immaculate Conception . There are works by Luis de Morales in the museum, the Holy Family , Madonna with the spindle and Ecce homo . The paintings by Diego Velázquez in the collection include “Portrait of Cardinal Camillo Astali Pamphili”, “Portrait of Gaspar de Guzmán, Conde de Olivares” and “Portrait of a Girl”. The museum owns the portraits of El Brigadier D. Alberto de Foraster , Manuel Lapeña and The Duchess of Alba by Francisco de Goya in the version with the black dress.

The collection of works by Huntington's contemporary Joaquín Sorolla is particularly extensive - the museum has the largest collection of his work outside of Spain. Huntington met the painter in Spain and Sorolla made two trips to New York, also visiting the Hispanic Society of America. The collection includes Sorolla's portraits of Aureliano de Beruete , Raimundo de Madrazo , José Echegaray , José Ortega y Gasset , Rafael Altamira , Pío Baroja , José Martínez Ruiz , Vicente Blasco Ibáñez , Juan Ramón Jiménez , Ramón Pérez de Ayala , Louis Comfort Tiffany and the photographer Antonio García Peris ( El fotografo Antonio Garcia en su laboratorio ). In addition, there is the cityscape of Arco y puerta de Santa Maria , the fisherman's picture Sol de la tarde , the beach scenes Idilio en le mer , Saliendo del baño and Niños en la playa and the peasant subject Aleanos Leoneses . One of the painter's main works is the cycle of paintings, Visión de España , which Huntington commissioned Sorolla in 1911. Between 1913 and 1919 Sorolla painted 14 large-format pictures with views of Spanish regions, for which a separate hall was set up in the Hispanic Society of America.

In addition to paintings, the collection also includes watercolors, drawings, prints and photographs. There are also around 1000 sculptures from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. These include an Archangel Gabriel from Burgos around 1500 , the sculptural work Sepulcro de Gutierre de la Cueva from the Monasterio de San Francisco in Cuéllar , made around the same time, and the equestrian sculpture El Cid , Huntington's wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington , in front of the museum . 1927 created.

There are also objects from Roman times, such as a mosaic with the head of Medusa from Alcolea del Río , or gold and silversmiths such as jewelry and sacred objects. This includes a custodia from 1585 from Alarcón . Further objects of the handicraft are works made of iron, glass objects, faience, various furniture such as cabinet cupboards, ivory carvings, as well as an extensive collection of textiles, which also includes various carpets.


The library's collection includes works from the 11th to the 21st centuries. It is one of the most important specialized libraries with a focus on the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America. The collection includes medieval documents and Bibles with book paintings, books of hours as well as historical manuscripts and maps. The library has a total of 250,000 books, including 15,000 books published by 1701. Among the numerous first editions is the edition of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes from 1605.


  • Todd Florio: The Hispanic Society of America, a centennial celebration, 1904-2004 . Hispanic Society of America, New York 2004, ISBN 0-87535-157-3 .

Web links

Commons : Hispanic Society of America  - Collection of Pictures, Videos and Audio Files

Coordinates: 40 ° 50 ′ 0.1 ″  N , 73 ° 56 ′ 47.7 ″  W.