Since 1920, Huntington, Long Island, has been home to the Heckscher Museum of Art, located in Heckscher Park. The Heckscher Museum, with its outstanding Permanent Collection of more than 2,500 artworks from the early 16th century to the present, is the cultural center of Long Island. The museum’s Permanent Collection is comprised of paintings, sculpture, graphic art, photography and works on paper (prints, drawings and photographs), created by a wide range of artists from around the world.
On July 10, 1920, August Heckscher and his wife, Anna, dedicated the Heckscher Museum to the people of Huntington, “and especially the children.”. At the museum’s inception, Anna Heckscher was elected Honorary Curator of Art. She believed that museum-going should be available to everyone, regardless of means or background. To this day, admission is free to museum visitors.
Evelyn Beatrice Longman’s Youth Eternal is the longest continuously exhibited artwork at The Heckscher Museum. The Museum’s lobby fountain is prominent and has a history closely related to its founding, as well as a connection to an iconic American sculpture.
In October 1962, Eva Ingersoll Gatling was hired as the Museum’s first full-time professional director. She was one of the first women in America to direct an art museum. She is credited with establishing The Heckscher Museum as an important regional museum. Many of the works that are part of the museum’s collection today were curated by her, including works by Modern artists.
Currently, The Heckscher Museum of Art houses an array of remarkable artworks as well as several dynamic exhibitions that showcase art from around the world and across periods.
The Heckscher Museum aims to provide Long Island and the regional community with artistic inspiration through programs that engage the community. The museum offers tours and programs for school groups, as well as art workshops for adults. It also offers lectures and film series relating to art.
“The Heckscher Museum strives to be a leading source of artistic inspiration for Long Island and the region through community engagement and education programs.”
With a diverse array of exhibitions and engaging museum programs, Heckscher Museum of Art serves the Town of Huntington and the entire Island of Long Island. The museum has an important Permanent Collection consisting of more than 2,300 pieces by American and European artists.
Helen and August Heckscher founded the Heckscher Museum in 1920 and donated the building and 185 works of art to the Town of Huntington. The Heckscher’s envisioned Heckscher Park and the Museum as the cultural, recreational, and social center of the community. Because of this vision, the Museum has championed the value of publicly accessible art and arts education for all.
As part of the founding collection, there are works by European Old Masters such as Lucas Cranach, François Girardon, and Henry Raeburn, as well as important 19th and 20th-century American painters, such as Edward and Thomas Moran, Ralph Albert Blakelock, and George Inness.
A newly formed non-profit organization took over operational responsibility of the Heckscher Museum in 1957 after Huntington delegated it to an independent Board of Trustees. During the same year, The Heckscher Museum received its Absolute Charter from the Board of Regents of New York State.
A more active schedule of exhibitions was implemented, as well as an educational program. One of the first women to direct a museum in the United States, Eva Gatling became Director in 1962. The Museum made one of its most important acquisitions during her tenure when it acquired George Grosz’s Eclipse of the Sun-a a monumental painting from the height of his activity in Berlin during the 1920s. During Gatling’s 16 years at the Huntington, many more objects were added to the collection, including several works by Arthur Dove, who, like Grosz, lived in Huntington for an extended period.
Further education programs and exhibitions were added by subsequent directors. Baker/Pisano Collection, which focuses on American modernist art, was given to the collection in 2001 and remains the largest donation.
The Heckscher Museum strives to thrive and grow in the quality of its collections, exhibitions, and educational and public programs. The Heckscher Museum of Art is a 501(c)(3) educational organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The Museum’s building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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