The Best Museum You Haven’t Visited

is that the Hunt Library back there behind our friend Norton?
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by Mark Stouffer of The Fullertonian

This recent article on NPR (Jan 31, 2011) was a 7+ minute long story about a Southern California museum that is better known in Europe, as the article states, than in California. It should be of even more interest to Fullertonians.

The NPR article tells the wonderful story of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. It calls it America’s least-known great museum.

The museum is the combination of what was the Pasadena Art Museum with Norton Simon’s own massive art collection. In the 1960’s industrialist Norton Simon was becoming one of the pre-eminent art collectors in the world, with one of the largest, most respected, privately held collections. It contains over 4,000 objects including works by Botticelli, Raphael, El Greco, Rembrandt, Goya, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Rodin, van Gogh, Picasso, Warhol and Lichtenstein. I skipped many.

So how could Mr. Simon afford all this stuff? This is the part interesting to Fullertonians. He did it by first purchasing an insolvent orange juice bottling plant in Fullerton, CA, for $7000 in 1924. He called it the Val Vita Food Products company and the rest is history. Val Vita became Hunt Foods and over time Mr. Simon became wildly wealthy.

Interestingly, last weeks Fullertonian featured Fullerton Art Walk art at P.A.S by John M. Sollom, assemblages of found objects collected from the orange juice bottling plant across from P.A.S., a former Hunt Foods bottling plant. The NPR article did not mention this.

by Mark Stouffer of The Fullertonian

image property of Norton Simon Art Foundation

Simon, pictured above in the early 1980s, stands in front of one of the paintings in his collection, Rembrandt’s
Portrait of a Boy. Simon died in 1993.

pictured above
John M. Sollom
45″x30″ Assemblage,  2011


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now i know how Hunt Library got it’s name. wouldn’t it have been cool to have the some of the world’s most prized art right here in fullerton? what were we thinking in the early sixties? man, i wish i were alive then…