The Associated Press reports that the Hispanic Society of America, the perennially under-appreciated Washington Heights institution that owns a trove of Iberian art and was founded by collector Archer Milton Huntington in 1904, is hoping to gain a bit more attention with a slight name alteration and the sale of its collection of 38,000 coins as a single lot in an auction that could fetch $35 million for new acquisitions.
First, the name change. Though the Hispanic Society of America brand is not going anywhere, the museum itself may be rechristened as the Archer M. Huntington Museum to highlight its art holdings, which include major works by Goya (a 1797 Duchess of Alba), El Greco and, the wire service notes, “monumental sculptures by Anna Hyatt Huntington, the wife of the society’s founder.”
The sale of its numismatics collection, which has reportedly been on loan to the Numismatic Society for years but never exhibited, is set to take place at Sotheby’s on March 8. (It’s a sealed bid auction, meaning that each bidder submits a single offer and the winner walks away with the collection.)
Attendance at the museum is down from about 50,000 people a year in the 1950s to just 20,000 today, and the museum hopes some new acquisitions may bring more people through its doors. Regardless, the scale of the Society’s collections is impressive. Here’s the AP:
“It has 6,800 paintings and drawings, 1,000 sculptures, including pieces from the first millennium B.C., thousands of decorative arts objects, including ceramics, textiles and furniture, and 175,000 photographs. The library has 250,000 books, including 15,000 printed before 1701, plus 200,000 manuscripts from the 12th century to the present.”