Crocker Art Museum

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Crocker Art Museum
Crocker Museum in Sacramento Ca..JPG
New main Entrance of the Crocker Art Museum, Teel Family Pavilion Sacramento, California
Crocker Art Museum is located in Sacramento, California
Crocker Art Museum
Crocker Art Museum is located in California
Crocker Art Museum
Crocker Art Museum is located in the United States
Crocker Art Museum
Location216 O St., Sacramento, California
Coordinates38°34′37″N 121°30′18″W / 38.57694°N 121.50500°W / 38.57694; -121.50500Coordinates: 38°34′37″N 121°30′18″W / 38.57694°N 121.50500°W / 38.57694; -121.50500
Area2.5 acres (1.0 ha)
ArchitectSeth Babson and Charles Gwathmey
Architectural styleVictorian Italianate and Classic Contemporary
NRHP reference #71000176[1]
CHISL #599[2]
Added to NRHPMay 6, 1971

The Crocker Art Museum, formerly the E. B. Crocker Art Gallery is the longest continuously-operating art museum in the West. Located in Sacramento, California, the Museum hosts one of the state's premier collections of Californian art. The collection contains works dating from the Gold Rush to the present day, a collection of master drawings, European paintings, one of the largest international ceramics collections in the U.S. and collections of Asian, African, and Oceanic art.[3]

In 1871, Edwin B. Crocker, a wealthy banker and landowner,[4] and Margaret Crocker began to assemble a significant collection of paintings and drawings during an extended trip to Europe just a year after their purchase of land on the corner of Third and O Street in the city of Sacramento. As a prominent California family, the Crockers supported many social and civic causes. Judge Crocker (1818–1875) served on the State Supreme Court. His brother was Charles Crocker, one of the "Big Four" railroad barons. In 1885, his widow, Margaret (1822–1901), fulfilled their shared vision of creating a public art museum when she presented the E. B. Crocker Art Gallery and collection to the City of Sacramento and the California Museum Association, "in trust for the public".[3] the contents of which were valued at the time at more than $500,000.000.[5]

While the Crocker Art Museum had undertaken a series of renovations and additions since it first opened as a public museum 125 years ago, the facility could not keep pace with the Museum's burgeoning collection and the growing population of Sacramento and California's Central Valley Region. In 2000, the Crocker began a master planning process with Gwathmey Siegel & Associates and in 2002 commissioned the firm to design a major expansion of the Museum. The expanded Crocker Art Museum opened on October 10, 2010.[3]

Permanent collections[edit]

Charles Christian Nahl, Sunday Morning in the Mines , 1872

Californian art and American art[edit]

The Californian art collection includes works dating from statehood to the present day. The core collection of early Californian art was assembled by Judge E. B. and Margaret Crocker in the early 1870s and has continued to grow over the years. The Crocker now boasts 150 years of painting, sculpture, and craft media covering genres that include Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop Art, and features artists such as Thomas Hill, Guy Rose, Joan Brown, and Wayne Thiebaud. The collection also includes American art from the late-19th century to the present. American impressionists and modernists are a particular strength, with works by Childe Hassam, Robert Henri, and Georgia O'Keeffe. Other 20th-century painters represented include Granville Redmond, Edwin Deakin, Maynard Dixon, Richard Diebenkorn, Mel Ramos, Jim Piskoti ("Justice"), Jess, and Luis Azaceta. Sacramento painter Amanda Austin is also represented in the collection.[6]

Works on paper[edit]

The collection of approximately 1,500 Old Master drawings include examples from the major European schools. Collection strengths include European drawings from the 17th and 18th centuries. Major drawings by artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Fra Bartolommeo, François Boucher, and Jean-Honoré Fragonard are represented. American photography and modern and contemporary California prints are also strengths of the works on paper collection.[3]

European art[edit]

The collection of European art was shaped by the Crocker family's purchase of paintings during their grand tour of Europe between 1869 and 1871. This core collection focuses on Central European painting of the 19th century, Dutch and Flemish 16th- and 17th-century painting, and Italian-Baroque painting. Painters represented at this art museum include Antonio Joli, Guido Cagnacci, Gerrit van Honthorst, Nicolaes Maes, Nicolaes Molenaer, Pieter Quast (Quarreling Women), Bernhard Reinhold (Young Mason Eating Lunch), Andreas Achenbach, Karl von Piloty, Paul Blondeau (Dordrecht), Arnold Marc Gorter (Canal Landscape With Trees), Andreas Schelfhout, and Charles Christian Nahl.

In the Artist's Studio by Édouard-Antoine Marsal (French, 1845–1929). Part of the collection of European art at the Crocker Art Museum.


Since midcentury, the Museum has followed the development of notable Californian, American, and international ceramists such as Hamada Shoji and Lucie Rie. The history of ceramics is also explored through a collection of 18th-century Meissen porcelain tableware and in the works of ancient cultures dating to the Neolithic period.

Asian Art[edit]

The collection of Asian art is noted for its holdings of Chinese tomb furnishings and trade ceramics, and Japanese armor and tea ware. The collection is also notable for Korean ceramics, which began with a gift by Judge E.B. and Margaret Crocker's daughter Jennie Crocker Fassett in the 1920s. South and Southeast Asia are well represented through the William and Edith Cleary gift of more than 600 Indian and Persian miniature paintings and drawings, as well as Buddhist art from the region between Pakistan and Southeast Asia.[3]

African and Oceanic art[edit]

The collection of African and Oceanic art features a variety of objects created for daily life and traditional ceremonies. The art of the Asmat of New Guinea is strikingly evidenced in the towering memorials to ancestors, called bis poles.

The Crocker-Kingsley[edit]

A biennial exhibition has been held by the museum in cooperation with the Kingsley Art Club since 1927, and juried since 1940. Artists whose works have appeared include Robert Arneson, Elmer Bischoff, David Gilhooly, Ralph Goings, Roland Petersen, Mel Ramos, Fritz Scholder, and Wayne Thiebaud.[7][8]

Main buildings[edit]


Crocker Art Museum; historic Art Gallery building

In 1868, Judge Edwin B. Crocker purchased the property and existing buildings on the corner of Third and O Streets. He then commissioned Seth Babson (1830–1908), a local architect, to redesign and renovate the home into a grander, Italianate mansion. In addition, Crocker asked Babson to design an elaborate gallery building that would sit adjacent to the mansion and display the family's growing art collection.

Babson saw the home and gallery as an integrated complex, unique in design and demanding the finest materials. The gallery building included a bowling alley, skating rink and billiards room on the ground floor; a natural history museum and a library on the first floor; and gallery space on the second floor. Completed in 1872, the Crocker family mansion and art gallery are considered the masterpieces of Babson's career.

The Crocker Mansion (in a stereoscopic view)

The family mansion went through several uses and reconstructions until a 1989 renovation restored the historic façade and created a modern gallery interior.

2010 expansion[edit]

On October 10, 2010 the Crocker Art Museum opened a new 125,000-square-foot (11,600 m2) building designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects founded by recognized architect Charles Gwathmey of group The New York Five. The roughly 37,600-square-foot (3,490 m2) custom facade system was designed and supplied by Overgaard Ltd., Hong Kong. The new building, named the Teel Family Pavilion, is attached to the museum's historic structures to expand the Crocker Art Museum's original and present traveling exhibitions as well as educational programs.

The controversial expansion has more than tripled the Crocker's size to 145,000 square feet (13,500 m2) – adding four times the space for traveling exhibitions and three times the space for the Museum to showcase its permanent collection. The original museum only accommodated 4 percent of the museum's collection. 15 percent was displayed at the opening of the new section.[9]

The expanded Museum includes a new education center with four studio art classrooms, an art education resource room for teachers and docents, an expanded library, and student and community exhibition galleries, as well as an auditorium and public gathering places. These new facilities allow the Crocker to present expanded programming, enabling the Museum to serve the community as never before.

Selected collection highlights[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ "California Historical Landmark: Sacramento County". Office of Historic Preservation. California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  3. ^ a b c d e
  4. ^ Nieman, Donald G. (2011). The Constitution, Law, and American Life: Critical Aspects of the Nineteenth-Century Experience. University of Georgia Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0820340395.
  5. ^ Last name of author, Author (2012). Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia And Register of Important Events. Nabu Press. p. 418. ISBN 978-1248510186.
  6. ^ Eleanor Tufts; National Museum of Women in the Arts (U.S.); International Exhibitions Foundation (1987). American women artists, 1830–1930. International Exhibitions Foundation for the National Museum of Women in the Arts. ISBN 978-0-940979-01-7.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-01-26. Retrieved 2009-01-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Crocker Museum's Crocker-Kingsley exhibition web page
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2009-01-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Kingsley Art Club's Crocker-Kingsley exhibition web page
  9. ^ <"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-21. Retrieved 2012-07-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)>

Further reading[edit]

  • Scott A. Shields, Lial A. Jones, William Breazeale, Diana Daniels, Nancy Tingley, and Erin Aitali, The Crocker Art Museum Collection Unveiled. Crocker Art Museum (2010).
  • William Breazeale, Cara Denison, Stacey Sell, and Freyda Spira, A Pioneering Collection: Master Drawings from the Crocker Art Museum. Paul Holberton Publishing, London (2010).
  • Diana L. Daniels, Martha Drexler Lynn, "The Vase and Beyond: The Sidney Swidler Collection of the Contemporary Vessel". Crocker Art Museum (2010).
  • William Breazeale, Susan Anderson, Christine Giviskos, and Christiane Andersson, The Language of the Nude: Four Centuries of Drawing the Human Body. Lund Humphries (2008).
  • Janice T. Driesbach, Catherine Church Holland and Harvey Jones, Art of the Gold Rush. University of California Press (1998)
  • Susan Landauer, California Impressionists, Georgia Museum of Art (1996)

External links[edit]