Collection Highlights: The Timken Museum of Art

Tucked away in a corner of historic Balboa Park, the Timken Museum of Art is probably one of San Diego’s best-hidden gems, and one of the finest small museums in the world. Established in 1965, this year the Timken celebrates its 50 anniversary.

The modern travertine, bronze and glass building was designed by the firm of Frank L. Hope and Associates. Architect John Mock (Hope’s architect in charge of contemporary design), carefully planned the building to embrace Balboa Park from within while allowing natural sunlight to bathe the masterpieces.

Left: St. Bartholomew, 1657 by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn Right: Portrait of Mary Villiers (1622-85) Lady Herbert of Shurland by Sir Anthony van Dyck
Left: St. Bartholomew, 1657 by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
Right: Portrait of Mary Villiers (1622-85) Lady Herbert of Shurland by Sir Anthony van Dyck

Home to the Putnam Foundation’s remarkable collection, the museum displays more than 60 artworks of European old masters, 19th century American art and Russian icons.

Left: Portrait of a Young Man in Armour, c.1620 by Peter Paul Rubens Right: Mrs. Thomas Gage, 1771 by John Singleton Copley
Left: Portrait of a Young Man in Armour, c.1620 by Peter Paul Rubens
Right: Mrs. Thomas Gage, 1771 by John Singleton Copley

Notable works in the collection include Rembrandt’s Saint Bartholomew, Pieter the Elder Bruegel’s The Parable of the Sower; John Singleton Copley’s Portrait of Mrs. Thomas Gage; Eastman Johnson’s classic The Cranberry Harvest, Island of Nantucket; and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s View of Volterra.

 The Cranberry Harvest. Island of Nantucket, 1880 by Eastman Johnson
The Cranberry Harvest. Island of Nantucket, 1880 by Eastman Johnson

I became acquainted with the Timken in 2002 when my mother became a docent there, and it was then that – through her eyes  I learned about the museum’s exquisite collection. But most importantly, I learnt about the passion and dedication behind it.

Each painting at the Timken has now a new meaning for me because I know the story behind it and how the docents presented them to their different audiences. The Piazzetta at Venice and A Seaport at Sunset, were some of my mother’s favourites to show to the young children in her school tours. It’s not always easy to get kids interested in classic art, but by drawing their attention to the colours and the details on the painting, my mother was always able to captivate the children.

The Piazzetta at Venice by Luca Carlevaris (1663-1730/1)
The Piazzetta at Venice by Luca Carlevaris (1663-1730/1)

This year, the Timken Museum has a list of events lined-up to celebrate its 50 anniversary. The staff is extremely prepared and passionate about their job; and they will be waiting eagerly to share their treasures with you.

The Magnolia Blossom, 1888 by Martin Johnson Heade
The Magnolia Blossom, 1888 by Martin Johnson Heade

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Bridgeman Images is a licensing partner for Timken Museum  – view over 40 images 

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