As a very young man I was fortunate enough to travel by plains trains cars and buses to many places.
One of those was the Norton Simon Museum founded by non other than a man named Norton Simon quite a mover and shaker in his day.
Of the much information that exists on the World Wide Web about Norton Simon I found the Museum’s Biography best suited for this article – JC Angelcraft
“One of the outstanding American art collectors of the twentieth century, he kept as a guiding principle his regard for the ability of the visual arts to inspire and reflect the human condition.” Norton Simon Museum Staff
(Pasadena) January 10th 2017 – Few individuals are so gifted as to leave an indelible mark in either commerce or culture, yet Norton Simon left his in both.
Entrepreneur, industrialist, philanthropist, it is difficult to describe the rare blend of faculties possessed by this brilliant and visionary connoisseur.
Norton Simon believed deeply in the power of art to communicate.
One of the outstanding American art collectors of the twentieth century, he kept as a guiding principle his regard for the ability of the visual arts to inspire and reflect the human condition.
Norton Winfred Simon was born on February 5, 1907 in Portland, Oregon.
He graduated high school in San Francisco at the age of 16. Early on, Mr. Simon showed a strong proclivity for business and, in 1925, he moved to Los Angeles where he established a sheet metal distribution company.
Mr. Simon was a passionate businessman, with enthusiasm and a talent for negotiation.
In 1929, at the start of the Great Depression, Norton Simon invested $7,000 in a floundering juice bottling company.
He eventually turned his investment into the highly prosperous Hunt Foods, Inc. Then through strategy, mergers, and acquisitions, he built Norton Simon Inc., a multi-industry, multinational corporation that included Hunt-Wesson Foods, McCall’s Publishing, Saturday Review of Literature, Canada Dry Corporation, Max Factor cosmetics, and Avis Car Rental.
Norton Simon’s accomplishments as an art collector equaled his extraordinary achievements in business.
Over a period of less than 30 years, he amassed what is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest private art collections.
His interest in art began in the 1950s with the works of Degas, Renoir, Gauguin and Cézanne.
In the 1960s he shaped a major art collection of Old Masters, Impressionists and Modern works which expanded in the 1970s to include Indian and Southeast Asian art.
During this time, Mr. Simon became an influential force within the Southern California art community.
As a trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art, he encouraged the separation of the art and science activities, and was a catalyst in the formation of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
By the mid-1960s, Mr. Simon’s two foundations—The Norton Simon Foundation and the Norton Simon Art Foundation—were actively acquiring and displaying his art collections.
The Norton Simon Foundation’s first major purchase, in 1964, was the remaining inventory of “Duveen Brothers” in New York, a collection of Flemish tapestries, Italian marbles, and Old Master paintings.
The Norton Simon Foundation then lent most of its artworks in 1965 to the newly built Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Eventually, as Mr. Simon’s holdings exceeded the capacity of that Museum to exhibit them, he developed his own “museum without walls” concept, lending his art collections to museums throughout the world.
In 1969, Norton Simon retired from corporate business life to pursue his interests in politics, art, higher education, and medical research all which still required corporate money from his business interests.
Now immersed in educational, cultural and philanthropic activities, Norton Simon was honored to find a chairs sitting on many important educational boards
In his life Norton Simon served on the University of California Board of Regents, the Carnegie Commission on the Future of Higher Education, the boards of Reed College, the Los Angeles Music Center, the California School of Professional Psychology, and the Institute for Advanced Study.
Had he still been alive today, Norton Simon might even have sat on the Board of Regents of California’s Board of Behavioral Sciences whom issued my Master of Science degree and approved my Thesis.
In 1970, Mr. Simon briefly entered the political arena during the California Republican Primary with an unsuccessful bid for the United States Senate.
Norton Simon’s marriage to actress Jennifer Jones in 1971 marked the turning point in the shaping of his collections turning his appraisers eyes now to his wife.
With the exception of a few Greek and Egyptian objects, Norton Simon’s acquisitions until then were decidedly European.
That summer, during the couple’s honeymoon trip to India, Mr. Simon began to explore Indian art.
This led to his first purchase of Indian art, a Mughal ivory chess set and, more importantly, to an admiration for South Asian art, which occupied a large part of his collecting interest for the remainder of his life.
And having seen the Norton Simon Museum, now as an adult little has changed in my life, but the Norton Simon Museum is still as popular and beautiful as when visited it together with it lustrous gardens and beautifully sculptured patio.
By early 1974, Mr. Simon had begun to seek a permanent home for his large collection.
About the same time, Norton Simon welcomed an overture from the financially strapped Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, and ultimately assumed its leadership.
Now I am honored to serve the needs of both of these museum by making sure they continue to blessed, funded and most importantly do not lose their reputation for any scandals Americans that even republicans might cause to shut down the Museum together with democrats should any still exist.
Over the next years in the early 70’s , as loan commitments to other museums ended, the artworks traveled to Pasadena.
Norton Simon’s vast “museum without walls” began to assemble within walls for the first time.
When he was stricken in 1984 with the neurological disorder Guillain-Barré Syndrome, Mr. Simon refused to be defeated by the paralyzing illness and continued to oversee the Norton Simon Museum until his death in 1993.
Of the Crown Empire – bequeathed to me by the Holy Spirit – innocent of all charges – The Norton Simon Museum was a marvel to for me visit when went there on a field trip as a young man.
And it is so very important to me that I transmit my experiences growing up and pass them on to other children as a standard across the world and sponsoring field trips to the Norton Simon Museum and Museums across the World for children is something I look very forward to doing.
Many people and especially children do not care who Norton Simon is when they travel to the Museum or even know who he was or even when he died (1993), but maybe now they will.
He was quite a patron of the arts and during his thrust into his After-life (The Life after the Corporate World) he entered the world of education and philanthropy rescuing the Art World as best he knew how.
It was at this vital time in transition in his life that he said.
“I am not essentially a religious person, but my feeling about a museum is that it can serve as a substitute for a house of worship. It is a place to respect man’s creativity and to sense a continuity with the past. It is a place to give us a feeling of the dignity of man and to help us to strive towards our own creativity and fulfillment.” – Norton Simon, 1974
I have read and perceived a lot of things in my life and nothing surprises me more than how is determined who in the end gets the honor to care for so much art as Norton Simon did.
I feel however, that he deceived himself and how could such a passionate man and woman who were the Mr Norton Simon not be religious surrounded by so much beauty and so many good people working for him.
Love is religion in itself and what you love and seek to preserve says a lot about you and in the case of Mr Simon, it would seem his religion was the collective of art and music that existed in the world even the pieces he had not secured.
I am honored now to be the new patron of the Norton Simon museum and for me the name is “sticky,” and familiar and many people around the world and especially in California are familiar with it and the experience of the beauty of the Norton Simon Museum left a wonderful feeling in me even to this day.
The Current Exibit: THROUGH JANUARY 16, 2017 is Dark Visions: Mid-Century Macabre, but for the beautiful Gardens are what attract people to the Norton Simon which keeps them returning for more.
The Norton Simon Museum′s Sculpture Garden is a delight for visitors of all ages.
The lustrous pond—decorated by weeping willows and several varieties of water lilies—its stately trees, colorful shrubs and flowers and its meandering paths provide a stunning setting for some of the Museum’s most important sculpture.
The history of the garden extends long before the Museum opened in the 1960s.
In fact, this area of Southern California was first inhabited by the Hahamongna (Tongva) tribe of Native Americans, then later was part of the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel.
Following several owners, the tract on which the Museum now sits was originally purchased by the Carr family of Wisconsin in 1877 before it exchanged hands.
Matriarch Jeanne Carr transformed the property into a lush and verdant estate that she named “Carmelita” and was known as the most spectacular garden in the area.
Having passed through several owners, the land was deeded to the city of Pasadena in 1941, with a proviso that part be preserved for the local art institute, later to become the Pasadena Art Museum (and finally the Norton Simon Museum).
In the late 1960s, the Pasadena Art Museum, designed by local firm Ladd & Kelsey, was officially opened.
Its sculpture garden reflected the sparse, minimalist style of the era—acres of turf, a handful of trees, and a long, rectilinear reflecting pool.
JC Angelcraft Owner of US News and World Report TCC the Crown Corporation and special Agent in Charge of the United States of America Author of the Nine Needs all Humans Have and Co Founder of Angelcraft Foundation for Education where the light of hope shines brightly every day.