The Crocker Art Museum, formerly the E Museum. The B. Crocker Art Gallery, founded in 1885, is the oldest art museum located west of the Mississippi River. Located in Sacramento , California, the Museum holds one of the state ‘s leading collections of Californian art. The museum includes American works from the Gold Rush to the present, European paintings and masterpieces, one of the largest international collections of ceramics in the U.S., and collections of Asian , African and Oceanic art.
The Crocker Art Museum is the world’s largest display of California art and is renowned for its holdings of European masterpieces and international ceramics. The Crocker serves as the primary regional resource for the study and appreciation of fine art and offers a wide range of exhibitions, events and programs to enhance its collections, including films, concerts, studio classes, lectures, children’s activities and more. The Museum has also dedicated the entire first floor of the historic building as an educational centre, which includes four classrooms, a space for student and community exhibitions, the Gerald Hansen Library and Tot Land.
It is the only museum in the Sacramento region accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), a recognition given to less than 1,100 of the 33,000 museums in the nation. AAM accreditation certifies that the museum operates in accordance with the standards set by the museum profession, manages its collections responsibly and provides quality service to the public.
In 1868 Judge Edwin B. Crocker bought the property and the existing buildings on the corner of 3rd and Oth Streets. He then commissioned local architect Seth Babson (1830-1908) to renovate the house into a grand Italian mansion. Crocker also asked Babson to design an elaborate gallery building adjacent to the mansion to display the growing art collection of the family.
Babson saw the home and the gallery as an integrated complex, unique in design and built from the finest materials. The gallery building included a bowling alley, a skating rink and a billiard room on the ground floor; a museum of natural history and a library on the first floor; and a gallery space on the second floor. Completed in 1872, the Crocker family mansion and art gallery are considered to be the masterpieces of Babson ‘s career.
The family mansion underwent a number of uses and reconstructions until the renovation of the historic façade in 1989, creating a modern interior gallery. The original buildings, now connected, as well as the Herold Wing addition of 1969, were renamed the Crocker Art Museum in 1978. The Gallery Building is a California Historical Landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The collection of European art began with the trip of the Crocker family to Europe from 1869 to 1871. It wasn’t the Grand Tour. The Crockers had rented accommodation in Dresden for over a year and traveled mostly to Germany. As the later director of the museum would write, “Mr. Crocker was a novice and totally susceptible to a kind of fraud in his fear of becoming the owner of a large collection of masterpieces.
In his wholesale search, he acquired a collection of more than 700 paintings, most of them “not by the few famous names given to him by the dealers in Munich and Dresden.” (Works said to be by Rembrandt, Rubens, Poussin, Salvator Rosa, and even Leonardo da Vinci appeared in the initial catalog in 1876, but were re-assigned in the following decades. However, Crocker ‘s purchases included a number of genuine works.