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Huntington expands American art galleries

The new $10.3m wing is due to open in October with an exhibition of lead donors’ 18th and early 19th-century art collection

by Dan Duray  |  29 March 2016
Huntington expands American art galleries
A rendering of the new entrance to the Jonathan and Karin Fielding Wing. Photo: Frederick Fisher and Partners
The Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California announced that it will add 5,000 additional sq ft of display space to its American galleries with the opening of a new wing. Named for the lead donors of the $10.3m building project, the Jonathan and Karin Fielding Wing will feature eight new rooms, in addition to a new glass entrance. The expansion will make the Huntington’s “one of the largest displays of historic American art in the Western United States,” the press materials note, “perhaps second only to Arkansas’ Crystal Bridges.”

Unknown srtist, Early Portrait of a Woman with a Bowl of Cherries, around 1770–1780, Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen, courtesy of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Unknown srtist, Early Portrait of a Woman with a Bowl of Cherries, around 1770–1780, Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen, courtesy of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
The extension is due to open in October with a show of the Fieldings’ collection of 18th and early 19th century American art. “The educational and inspirational value of the new wing is immeasurable,” the Huntington’s president Laura Skandera Trombley said in a release. “It will bring to light unforgettable works made with American originality, and is sure to delight and surprise visitors of all ages.”

The new wing was designed by Frederick Fisher and Partners, which also worked on an earlier 2005 expansion of the Huntington’s Virginia Steele Scott Galleries. These first opened in 1984, following the donation of around 50 paintings from the foundation started by the arts patron and collector Virginia Steele Scott, part of the Orange County philanthropic family that built its wealth through machine engines.

The museum was founded in 1919 by the American industrialist and businessman Henry E. Huntington, when he moved his extensive library of rare books from New York to his ranch in California. It continues to be an important research centre for international scholars. The museum also holds one of the most important collections of 18th and early 19th century British art outside of the UK, including Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy, 1770, which Huntington bought in 1921 from the London dealer Joseph Duveen for the then-record price of £182,200—the equivalent of more than $9m today.

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