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Located in verdigris-topped neoclassical building in Audubon Terrace, a stately if often desolate cultural precinct all the way up on West 155th Street, the Hispanic Society of America is a repository of Spanish and Latin American art that is unrivaled in the United States, and by few institutions elsewhere. However, the greatness of its collection—which includes masterpieces by Goya, Velázquez, and El Greco, along with roughly 750,000 other works—is inversely proportionate to its foot traffic. Hampered by a gloomy setting desperately in need of modern amenities, and a mousey reputation among the city’s more glittering museums, it has long been in need of some Cinderella-style perking up.

For two years now, the man charged with fitting a glass slipper to this museological foot has been Philippe de Montebello, the 81-year-old former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. An elegant continental in tailored suits to match his noble lineage, de Montebello—who speaks fluent Spanish as well as German, Russian, French, and Italian—has been setting in motion a $15 million renovation campaign to bring the Hispanic Society into the 21st century. While this is underway (to be completed in 2019 at earliest, and likely years later), he has meanwhile contrived to raise the museum’s profile by sending 200 of its greatest objects to the Prado for a loan exhibition that has already proven a blockbuster.

To read more:

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You may also like to read:

*  Wadsworth Atheneum, Art Oasis, Hartford

*  Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY

*  Smithsonian: Scenes from the Wild Continent


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