At the Met, founded in 1870, the latest transformation of the American Wing has brought a display of sculpture, mosaics and stained glass in the luminous courtyard; an installation of 1,000 pieces of ceramics, glass, silver and pewter in balcony galleries; and a glass elevator that transports visitors to reconfigured period rooms.
At the 90-year-old Huntington, American art is relatively new. Founder Henry E. Huntington and his wife, Arabella, acquired a few American paintings along with their British portraits. But the institution didn't begin collecting American art until 1979, when it received a gift of 50 paintings from Virginia Steele Scott.
Today, the collection includes 9,400 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, furniture and other decorative arts. Fifteen galleries in the complex offer chronological and thematic displays of fine and decorative arts from the 17th through the mid-20th century.
The new showcase, a $1.6-million project designed to give the Huntington's rapidly growing American art collection more space and visibility, combines the original, 1984 American gallery with the Lois and Robert F. Erburu Gallery, a streamlined, 4-year-old structure by Los Angeles architect Frederick Fisher.