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The Haggin Museum is a both a local history museum and world-class art museum. Built in Victory Park from 1930 to 1931, it features 34,000 square feet of exhibit space for permanent and temporary exhibits. The history portion chronicles the history of Stockton and California. The art collection consists of 19th and early 20th century European and American art. Well-known artists include Jean-Léon Gérôme, George Inness, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Albert Bierstadt, who is famous for his paintings of Yosemite Valley; one of these paintings was loaned to the White House. The museum houses the biggest collection of Bierstadt's works. In addition to its exhibits, the museum offers a museum store and various educational programs such as lectures, musical performances and family events. A library/ archive is open by appointment.

2019 image of front of Haggin Museum (Bluelight999)

Cloud, Building, Plant, Sky

Grandfather of Eila Haggin, mining, banking, and real estate tycoon James Ben Ali Haggin, in photo published in 1914

Coat, Jaw, Beard, Dress shirt

Albert Bierstadt ca. 1865 painting "Looking Up the Yosemite Valley" loaned by the museum to the Ronald Reagan White House

Plant, Cloud, Sky, Mountain

The museum is named after Louis Terah Haggin (1847-1929), the father of Eila Butterworth Haggin McKee (1873-1936), who wanted a place in which to honor her father and house his large art collection. Part of the collection originated with Eila's grandfather, James Ben Ali Haggin (1822-1914), a Kentucky native who became a Western mining tycoon. Louis was born in November 1847 in Mississippi and married Blanche Butterworth (1855-1915) of Manhattan, New York in 1873; Eila was their only child. Louis was a successful attorney and businessman and became the president of the Cerro De Pasco Copper Company upon the death of his father in 1914. Eila was born in San Francisco and married an Austrian count in 1892; the marriage ended in divorce in 1900.

Louis lived in New York City by the 1890s but also owned homes on Nob Hill in San Francisco near his father's mansion and Paris, France. Eila's second marriage was to Stockton native and interior designer Robert T. McKee (1876-1943) in Manhattan in 1924. McKee's father, William F., was one of the pioneer settlers of Stockton in 1850. Blanche and Louis Haggin both died in Manhattan, in April 1915 and March 1929, respectively; Louis' estate was valued at four million dollars, much of which went to Eila.

Things came together in 1929 when the San Joaquin Pioneer and Historical Society wanted to build a local history museum. They could not find sufficient funds until Eila's husband, Robert, donated $30,000 on her behalf, with the condition that an art wing would be named for her father; she also offered to donate paintings from her recently deceased father's estate. Louis Haggin's collection included many works of art that were considered out of fashion for his generation when he acquired them. He especially loved images of California scenery and purchased paintings by Albert Bierstadt, William Keith, and Julian Rix to decorate his home in Manhattan. Louis bought a number of famous but no longer in vogue paintings by French artists including Rosa Bonheur and Adolphe Bouguereau. The McKees also paid for a freight train to haul the numerous paintings from New York to Stockton.

The museum was constructed in a portion of the twenty-nine-acre Victory Park using plans created by a collaboration of Stockton architect William J. Wright and San Francisco architect Lewis Hobart. The three-story Roman/Renaissance style building was finally completed in 1931 for its grand opening on June 14th. The original name was the "Louis Terah Haggin Memorial Galleries - San Joaquin Pioneer Historical Museum." Bequests from the estates of Eila and Robert provided additional funds for the museum. The museum has undergone a few expansions (1939, 1949, and 1976) and added to its historical and art collections.  

The history of Stockton and California is another focus of the museum's offerings, focusing on individuals who made a mark on the city and beyond. These include the city's founder Charles Weber and Benjamin Holt, the inventor of the caterpillar type tractor trailer. Admission costs are $8 for adults (ages 18-64); $7 for seniors (65+) or military; and $5 for youth (10-17) or students with school ID. Free admission days are the first Saturday of each month. Museum members are admitted free anytime, as are children under age 10 if accompanied by an adult. There is a museum store, too.

Anonymous. "Haggin Left $4,000,000." Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn) March 22nd, 1929.

Anonymous. "Haggin Daughter Willed $4,000,000." Daily News (New York City) March 21st, 1929.

Anonymous. "Louis T. Haggin, Financier, Dead." New York Times (New York City) March 20th, 1929.

Drew, John. Memorial for James Ben Ali Hagan (1822-1914), Find a Grave. February 11th, 2011. Accessed June 18th, 2024.

Haggin Museum. Fortunes & Family: The Haggin McKee Legacy, Haggin Museum: On View 4/16/15 - 6/14/15. January 1st, 2018. Accessed June 18th, 2024.

Haggin Museum. Hours, Directions & Admissions, Haggin Museum, Visit. January 1st, 2024. Accessed June 18th, 2024.

Harrison, Alfred C., Jr. The Collector Had a Good Eye, Alta: Culture, Art & Design. August 10th, 2020. Accessed June 18th, 2024.

Ruhstaller, Tod. The Founding of the Haggin Museum, Part II: Families, Fortune and Philanthropy. Soundings Journal. June 26th, 2020. Accessed June 18th, 2024.

Ruhstaller, Tod. The Founding of the Haggin Museum, Part III: A Crystallization of Community Commitment, Soundings Journal. July 30th, 2020. Accessed June 18th, 2024.

SLGMSD. Memorial for Blanche Butterworth Haggin (1855-1915), Find a Grave. October 6th, 2014. Accessed June 18th, 2024.

Stories of the Gilded Age. Memorial for Louis Terah Haggin (1847-1929), Find a Grave. March 12th, 2019. Accessed June 18th, 2024.

Tom, Zoe. Memorial for Eila Butterworth Haggin McKee, Find a Grave. January 11th, 2012. Accessed June 18th, 2024.

Image Sources(Click to expand)