A Trip to the Unknown: Wandering Through the National Academy Museum


I bet you’ve never been here, but I could be wrong–I often am–at least, I never was there. On Fifth Avenue, between two giants: the Guggenheim

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and the Cooper Hewitt (currently undergoing some much needed restoration of its 110-year old building)

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the National Academy Museum is housed in a Beaux-Arts townhouse formerly the home of railroad heir Archer Milton Huntington and his wife, sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. In 1939, the Huntingtons gave the building and surrounding properties to the National Academy, of which Anna Hyatt Huntington was a member. (NationalAcademy.org)

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The organization was originally conceived along the lines of London’s National Academy as an association of artists and architects who would “promote the fine arts in America through instruction and exhibition, ”

A living breathing organism, today it consists of a museum to showcase talented members and exhibit fine but sometimes less well-known artists,

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an active school of the arts

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and the association itself that elects new artists and architects to the Academy annually.

The special exhibit on right now is Sweden’s master, Anders Zorn, whose water colors are exceptional

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and whose ethnographer wife Emma is also featured in the exhibit.

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Famous Academy members include: John Singer Sargent, Augustus St. Gaudens, Andrew Wyeth, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra, Frank Stella, Thomas Eakins, Daniel Chester French–in fact the whole honor roll of eminent American artists and architects, some of whose works can be seen there.

If you are hanging around Fifth Avenue and want to experience one of New York’s many smaller but interesting and valuable museums, try this one. You can have a reasonable lunch around the corner on Madison Avenue at Three Guys, a terrific diner. Museum tickets are $10 for seniors and the museum is closed Monday and Tuesday.

 

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