The vast majority of museums in America were formed because of the benefactions of passionate collectors who wished to share their enthusiasms with the public. This tradition is as old as artist Charles Willson Peale who opened the first museum in America in Philadelphia in the early 1800s. By the end of the nineteenth century, a significant number of cities, large and small, possessed a museum established through the largess of wealthy collectors. Some of the museums have become so familiar with the public that they are known only by the last names of their benefactors, such as The Morgan, The Frick, The Gardner, The Corcoran, The Walters, and The Clark. Although perhaps lesser known, the Heckscher Museum's story is similar, as its beaux-arts building, its core collection and the parkland surrounding it were all donated to the Huntington community by businessman August Heckscher.
Unlike the other patrons just mentioned, the Heckscher gift was not made to an urban center, but rather to a rural outpost, largely agrarian community, making its benefaction all the more impressive and valuable. An early postcard shows just how bucolic the Museum's setting was.
July 10, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the dedication ceremony for this remarkable gift to the Town of Huntington and a great reason to celebrate Mr. Heckscher’s magnificent donation that transformed his private passion into the public good.
Accordingly, the Museum, in cooperation with the Town of Huntington, is making plans for centennial events and activities that will acknowledge the Museum's rich history and the many contributions it has made to the Huntington community. The centenary will provide an opportunity to inform the community about the Museum's many cultural assets, especially its excellence in educational programming. It will further afford a setting to communicate the Museum's aspirations for the future. We look forward to engaging the whole community in the 2020 celebration.
Executive Director & CEO
The Heckscher Museum of Art serves the people of the Town of Huntington and surrounding communities. Through exhibitions of its permanent and loan collections of art and related museum programs, it seeks to provide inspiring and transformative educational experiences to encourage a broader understanding of our past and present and enrich the quality of life of the individuals it serves.
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) since 1972.