South America's epic past unfolds in a New York City town house

The Brooklyn Museum's curator of European art, Richard Aste, is acquiring important works in advance of the traveling exhibition Behind Closed Doors: Power and Privilege in the Spanish American Home, 1492-1898, opening at his institution in September 2013. Other leaders in the field are the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, whose Latin American collections emphasize Mexican modernism; the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Santa Fe, where the arts of Hispanic New Mexico take center stage; and the Denver Art Museum. "Denver has the most comprehensive Spanish colonial collection in the United States with objects of all media from all over Latin America," says Donna Pierce, the only curator dedicated solely to Spanish colonial art at a major American art museum. For the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Huber exhibition underscores a century-long engagement with Latin American art that began in the 1890s and accelerated when it acquired the collection of railroad engineer Robert Henry Lamborn (1836-1895) through bequest. 

Scholars who have accompanied the Hubers overseas describe them as a resourceful pair, more than equal to the road's hardships and responsive to its rewards. "We've traveled hard together, bounding over rutted roads in vehicles that seemed to have no springs. The church was open or we searched for the key. Basic facilities were often elusive," recollects Stratton-Pruitt. More journeys lie ahead. Just back from biking the Veneto, the Hubers contemplate return visits to Spain and Paraguay. They are anxious to see the Jesuit missions again. Goa, too, is on their list. "For us, a big part of the fun has been discovering the work ourselves," says Richard.

Journeys to New Worlds: Spanish and Portuguese Colonial Art in the Roberta and Richard Huber Collection will be on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art between February and June 2013. An illustrated catalogue published by the museum in association with Yale University Press will accompany the show. Thirteen paintings from the collection, some illustrated here, are promised gifts to the museum.

by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton

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