The Haggin Museum has an interesting and touching history. In 1928 San Joaquin Pioneer and Historical Society realized that the rapidly growing area of what is today required a depository of items that would allow its residents to enjoy the finer things in life, art, natural science, and culture. Unfortunately, they found themselves short of funds. In stepped local Robert T. McKee who, at the behest of his wife offered them what is today a princely sum – $30,000. There was however conditions attached to the donation, the Museum was to be named after his wife’s late father and a wing was to be built to house her father’s collection of artwork.
These conditions were met – and today the museum stands as a monument to the forethought of a couple that had the best interests of Stockton (and visitors to the town) in mind.
Today the Haggin Museum houses some exceptional collections items that provide insight into the history of the San Joaquin Valley’ and highlights the achievements of some of its most famous residents including Benjamin Holt, the inventor of what was to be the Caterpillar tractor of the 21st century.
The 34,000 square feet of exhibition space hosts a number of permanent exhibits and also plays host to an ever-changing array of temporary exhibitions. It is also in great demand as a space for family programs, musical performances, and lectures.
Any visit to the Haggin museum would not be complete without spending some time reviewing its incredible collection of American and European art. As far as renowned American artists are concerned the works of Albert Bierstadt are of particular interest. His panoramas of Yosemite Valley are simply breathtaking – and one of the more famous works is actually on loan from the White House. Works from world-renowned artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir and George Inness (among many others) also take pride of place in the museum.
Lovers of history will be spoiled for choice when it comes to exhibits that cover such diverse areas as Native American culture, the Gold Rush, and the origins of agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley. There is also a fascinating examination of historic firefighting equipment. Other exhibits cover subjects such as shipbuilding and other industries that shaped modern Stockton.
This is a museum that will reward those curious about the history of both Stockton and the wider California area. It should not be missed by those curious to know more about the town – and it’s part in shaping the America of today.
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