The San Diego Museum of Art is a fine arts museum located at 1450 El Prado in Balboa Park in San Diego, California, that houses a broad collection with particular strength in Spanish art. The San Diego Museum of Art opened as The Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego on February 28, 1926, and changed its name to the San Diego Museum of Art in 1978. The official Balboa Park website calls the San Diego Museum of Art “the region’s oldest and largest art museum.” Nearly half a million people visit the museum each year.
The museum building was designed by architects William Templeton Johnson and Robert W. Snyder in a plateresque style to harmonize with existing structures from the Panama–California Exposition of 1915. The dominant feature of the façade is a heavily ornamented door inspired by a doorway at the University of Salamanca. The Cathedral of Valladolid also influenced the museum’s exterior design, and the architects derived interior motifs from the Santa Cruz Hospital of Toledo, Spain.
The Museum’s collections are encyclopedic in nature, with pieces ranging from 5000 BC to 2012 AD. The museum’s strength is in Spanish works by Murillo, Zurbarán, Cotán, Ribera, and El Greco. Much of the museum’s old master collection was donated by sisters Anne, Amy, and Irene Putnam. The museum’s first significant acquisition was the 1939 purchase of Francisco Goya’s El Marques de Sofraga, which had belonged to a private family collection until that time and had never before been on public exhibition. The Putnam sisters provided financial backing for the purchase. The following year, director Reginald Poland acquired a portrait by Giovanni Bellini for the museum’s collection. Then in 1941, the museum purchased a Diego Velázquez portrait of the Infanta Margarita of Spain, which was possibly a study for a larger image of her in Vienna. During the museum’s first quarter-century, other significant benefactors were Archer M. Huntington and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Timken, whose small art collection is housed in the nearby Timken Museum of Art, established in 1965. In 2012, the Museum of Art received 48 German Expressionist paintings, drawings, and prints from various artists, including Otto Dix, Egon Schiele, Alexej von Jawlensky, Gabriele Münter, and Gustav Klimt from the collection of Vance E. London and his wife, Elisabeth Ginsberg. EZ San Diego Junk Removal
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