The Best Museum You Haven’t Visited

The above titled 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 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.

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