The Hispanic Society of America was founded in 1904 to establish a free museum and research library representing the culture of Spain and the peoples it has influenced.
The society's holdings range from prehistoric art to 19th- and 20th-century paintings. Exhibitions have concentrated on the work of individual artists, illustrated manuscripts, Spanish interiors and laces, and other subjects. The two-story terra cotta main court is lined with paintings by Goya, Vélasquez, Morales and others, and archways frame 15th- and 16th-century tomb sculpture and Roman mosaics. There are also wood carvings, ivories, examples of hand-crafted gold and silver, as well as contemporary works.
The library contains over 200,000 books relating to the art, history and society of Spain, Portugal and colonial Hispanic America including more than 16,000 books that were printed before 1701. The library also holds valuable rare maps, globes, prints, Bibles, historical chronicles, and books on chivalry and incunabula.
The Hispanic Society's collections were started in 1892, when the institution's founder, Archer Milton Huntington, made his first trip to the Iberian Peninsula. It is located in an attractive neoclassical building, the former estate of American artist John James Audobon. It is also the site of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Boricua College.
Hispanic culture in all its richness and diversity comes to life on a tour of the Hispanic Society's permanent art exhibits, which comprise everything from Spanish earthenware and fine china to hand forged metalwork and important paintings by the Great Masters of the medium: El Greco, Velázquez and Goya.
Teachers are encouraged to order pre—visit materials. An audiovisual kit consisting of a recorded commentary (in Spanish or English) on the collection and an accompanying slide set is available for $5. A variety of publications and films on Spanish art, history and literature can be ordered through the Department of Publications.