San Diego

United States


Website: http://www.timkenmuseum.o

Timken Museum Of Art

The Timken Museum of Art has its roots in the serendipitous relationship between two sisters, Anne R. and Amy Putnam-members of the Ohio-based Timken family of the Timken roller bearing fame÷and San Diego attorney Walter Ames.

The Putnam sisters arrived in San Diego in the early 1900s from Vermont, accompanied by their elderly parents and preceded by their uncle, Henry Putnam, who retired in San Diego in 1898.

The Putnam sisters spent decades acquiring European old master paintings. Initial paintings from the sisters' collection were donated to San Diego's Fine Arts Gallery (now the San Diego Museum of Art). Their later acquisitions were loaned to prestigious museums around the country until the Timken Museum of Art opened in 1965.

In 1951, with the assistance of longtime friend and advisor Walter Ames, the Putnam sisters established the nonprofit Putnam Foundation, under which their artworks became designated as the Putnam Foundation Collection. In the early 1960's, Ames secured financial support from the Timken family to help build the museum.

In the years between the Foundation's establishment and the opening of the museum, the Putnam Foundation Collection paintings remained on loan to institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; the National Gallery in Washington, DC; and Harvard University's Fogg Art Museum. In 1965, the paintings were reunited, and hung in their new permanent quarters at the Timken Art Museum. Located on the Prado in San Diego's beautiful Balboa Park, today's Timken Museum of Art displays more than 60 extraordinary artworks, predominantly paintings augmented by a... [ Read all ]

Permanent Collection

The world-class Putnam Foundation Collection is on permanent display in the Timken Museum of Art. European old master paintings, Russian icons and American art constitute the primary focus of the collection.

The Putnam Collection's European paintings span nearly 600 years of Western art from early Italian altarpieces to mid-nineteenth century French landscape painting. The collection includes fine examples of French, Dutch, Flemish, and Italian painting. A featured highlight is San Diego's only painting by the great Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn.

The American collection is noted for its choice selection of paintings. Among its celebrated masterworks are paintings by John Singleton Copley and Eastman Johnson.

Russian icons from the Moscow and Novgorad schools, the oldest dating to the fifteenth century, are on view in a special gallery. A late bronze sculpture of Mercury by the famed sculptor Giambologna graces the center of the rotunda, which is adorned with French seventeenth century tapestries from the Stories of Queen Artemisia series.


Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Il Guercino) (Italian, 1591–1666)

The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1654–55

Oil on canvas

61 1/4 x 57 1/2 in. (155.6 x 146.1 cm)


Archbishop Girolamo Boncompagni

The princes Colonna

The marquis of Landsdowne, his sale, Christie’s, London, March 7, 1930, lot 443

Private collection

Matthiesen Fine Art, London, 1981

Acquired by the Putnam Foundation, 1983

Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio (Italian, 1467–1516)

Portrait of a Youth Holding an Arrow, ca. 1500–1510

Oil on panel

19 5/8 x 14 in. (49.7 x 35.4 cm)


The marquis de Gallo

Purchased in Paris by the seventh earl of Elgin, 1806

Earls of Elgin and Kincardine

Acquired by the Putnam Foundation, 1964

Forthcoming exhibitions

The Timken Museum of Art continues "Art in the Afternoon", its popular series of afternoon gallery talks. The schedule for this fall's speaker program has not yet been set, please check back soon.

Docent tours designed to introduce visitors to the Timken's Putnam Foundation Collection are offered on:

* Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon
* Every 3rd Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.


Always free admission.

Opening hours

Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sunday: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Closed Mondays, major holidays and the month of September

Getting there

The museum is located near downtown San Diego in Balboa Park. The Timken is in Balboa ParkÌs Plaza de Panama, directly across the Prado from the Balboa Park Visitors Center, and adjacent to the Botanical Building, Lily Pond, and the San Diego Museum of Art. There is a small parking lot directly in front of the museum, and signage will direct you to other lots.

From Interstate 5
Approaching downtown San Diego from I5 South, exit Sassafras Street (also the Airport exit). You will exit onto Kettner Boulevard. Continue south on Kettner about 1 mile, take a left on Laurel Street (get into the far right lane when you turn left), and go up the very steep hill. Laurel Street turns into El Prado, which will take you into Balboa Park.

Approaching downtown San Diego from I5 North, take the 6th Avenue exit, turn right on 6th, and right on El Prado.

From Interstate 163
If going south on 163, exit University Avenue, go through the light at University and proceed about 1/2 mile to El Prado. Take a left on El Prado and follow the signs to parking.

Museum internal and external photos (1)

Click on the images to enlarge


Beloved storyteller, Harlynne Geisler, tells stories inspired the paintings at the Timken. The Saturday dates are: June 16th, July 14th, and August 16th. Program begins at 11:00 A.M. This program is recommended for children ages 5 and up. Admission is free.