Museum Tour « Introduction


This digital monograph was initiated by professor Anne Higonnet, and is informed by her investigation of the history of collecting. Concerned as much with the museum as an institution as with the objects contained within it, the site is constructed around a virtual tour of the Hispanic Society galleries, recreating the museumgoer experience carefully laid out by the Society's founder, Archer Milton Huntington, and allowing the viewer to consider the purposeful arrangement of objects within the collection space. Essays by Professor Higonnet, Curator Marcus Burke, and Columbia University students place the tour in context and include discussions of the architectural context and history of the museum, as well as the life and methods of its founder, Archer Milton Huntington, and his wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington, who created the museum building's sculptural program. A close study of select objects is facilitated by catalog entries and high-resolution images.

The Media Center welcomes this opportunity to reinforce the historically significant ties between the Hispanic Society of America and Columbia University. Beaux-Arts campuses for both institutions were built a short distance apart along Broadway in upper Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century. In 1920, Archer Milton Huntington funded the establishment of two important Columbia University entities: the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, and the Instituto de las Españas, or Hispanic Institute, a Latin American and Iberian cultural and research center.

The connections between the institutions run even deeper. The Hispanic Society owns one of New York's finest collections of Francisco Goya, an artist whose work every Columbia undergraduate is required to study as part of the Core Curriculum. After viewing projected images of Goya's paintings in Columbia classrooms, generations of students have taken the short subway ride to the Hispanic Society to see his masterworks in person. We hope that this website encourages others to make the same trip.

Caleb Smith, Director, Media Center for Art History
June 2012