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An Outpost for Old Spain in the Heights

(Felicia R. Lee, The New York Times) The Hispanic Society of America is perhaps New York’s most misunderstood institution.

Founded in 1904 as a museum and research library, it is blessed with world-class holdings: major paintings by Goya, Velázquez and El Greco, thousands of decorative-arts works, and important manuscripts, prints and photographs. It is all housed in a stately, if aged, Beaux Arts building with formal courtyards of granite and limestone.

But for decades it has had very few visitors.

Its Washington Heights location is off the beaten path, its marketing has been sleepy, and its galleries are not air-conditioned. So on sweltering summer days the paintings typically outnumber the patrons.

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