The 2020 Winter Show loan exhibition Unrivaled, curated by Philippe de Montebello and Peter Marino, reveals to visitors the enormous depth and quality of the collections of the Hispanic Society Museum & Library. No other institution in the world, even in Spain, can offer such a global vision of Spanish history, art, and culture spanning more than 4,000 years. The museum collection comprises 18,000 works of art from the Paleolithic Age to the 20th century, with numerous iconic paintings and sculpture by Spanish and Latin American masters, as well as superb examples from all of the decorative arts. With over 250,000 manuscripts, 35,000 rare books, and 200,000 modern books, its renowned library serves as an essential resource for research into the arts, literature, history, and culture of Spain, Portugal, Latin America, and the Philippines. The collection of prints and photographs preserves an invaluable visual record of Hispanic cultural patrimony with 17,000 prints from the 16th to the 20th century, and over 100,000 historical photographs ranging from Philippine daguerreotypes of the 1840s up to the Hispanic Society’s photographic expeditions to Spain in the 1920s.
The exhibition offers a full panorama of the Hispanic Society’s riches spanning 4,000 years of art and culture. Even though the Hispanic Society currently has a major traveling exhibition, Treasures from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library, that includes over 200 of its most important works, Unrivaled is not short on treasures. Renowned for its collection of paintings by the great masters, they figure prominently in The Winter Show loan exhibition with works by El Greco, Zurbarán, Velázquez, Goya, Sorolla and Sargent. Sculpture ranging from a Phoenician bronze to terracottas by Luisa Rolán as well as Spanish lusterware, Portuguese faience, a Manila galleon chest, a map of the Ucayali River in Peru ca. 1808-12, and 19th-century photographs from Chile and the Philippines.
The Hispanic Society Museum & Library, located on Audubon Terrace in Upper Manhattan, was founded in 1904 by the American scholar and philanthropist Archer M. Huntington (1870–1955) as a free public museum and library to promote the study of the rich artistic and cultural traditions of Spain and its area of influence in the Americas and throughout the world. The collections are unrivaled in their scope and quality outside the Iberian Peninsula, addressing nearly every aspect of culture in Spain, as well as much of Portugal, Latin America, and the Philippines into the 20th century. The Hispanic Society is not only the preeminent art museum and library dedicated to Hispanic culture in the United States, it also serves as the sole institution uniting all of the Hispanic and Latino populations through the common heritage of the Spanish language, history, and culture.