The Haggin Museum, an art and history museum located in Stockton, has been referred to by Sunset magazine as "one of the undersung gems of California." The impressive brick building has stood in the center of Stockton’s lush Victory Park for 79 years, but it’s what’s on the inside that makes it worth visiting.
On display in the museum’s fine art galleries are dozens of paintings by renowned 19th- and early 20th-century American and European artists, including Jean Béraud, Rosa Bonheur, William Bouguereau, Jean-Léon Gérôme, George Inness and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Of particular note are breathtaking panoramas of Yosemite Valley (including one once loaned to the White House) by American painter Albert Bierstadt. The Haggin has the largest museum collection of major Bierstadt works.
How did world-renowned paintings come to be located in Stockton? In 1928, the San Joaquin Pioneer and Historical Society was looking to build a history museum but had been unable to raise enough funds. Stockton native Robert T. McKee offered the group $30,000 on behalf of his wife, Eila Haggin McKee, who had only two requirements: name the museum in honor of her late father, Louis Terah Haggin; and add an art wing to fill with paintings from her father’s collection.
The history galleries focus on the San Joaquin Valley’s past and the accomplishments of its residents, such as Charles Weber, Stockton’s founder; Benjamin Holt, inventor of the Caterpillar track-type tractor; Tillie Lewis, the "Tomato Queen" and the Stephens Bros. Boat Builders.
The Haggin Museum also houses the largest museum collection of original art works by "Golden Age" illustrator J.C. Leyendecker.
To house the continually growing collections, the museum has undergone several additions since first opening. The McKee Room was added in 1939; an extensive addition was constructed in 1949; and the Benjamin Holt Wing opened in 1976. Today the museum’s three-story building contains more than 34,000 square feet of exhibition space.
The museum’s permanent art and history exhibits are augmented by a number of temporary exhibitions annually. Special events, such as family programs, lectures, and musical performances, are held throughout the year. The Haggin Museum also maintains a Library-Archive, which is available by appointment. The Museum Store features a wonderful array of merchandise especially selected to complement your museum visit.
Although many Californians are still unaware of this cultural diamond, a trip to Stockton isn’t complete without a visit to The Haggin Museum.