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Maryhill Museum of Art

Rodin Sculpture, Queen Marie of Romania Royal Regalia & Native People of N. A. Baskets

Who the Sam Hill would build a Museum of Art in the middle of nowhere and how were a famous Folies-Bergére dancer, an artists model who found and married her sugar daddy and the beautiful Queen of Romania involved?
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The Maryhill Museum of Art — on the Colombia River in Washington State, just across the river from Oregon and equidistant from Portland and Seattle — was originally built as a mansion home for Sam Hill though his family resisted moving to so desolate a place.
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Samuel Hill had hoped to start an utopian Quaker agricultural community "where the sunshine of the east meets the rain of the west." A wealthy Seattle lawyer, railroad executive, financial manager, and investor, Sam was known for his ambition, energy and integrity.
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Sam Hill left a legacy of philanthropy, monuments, and highways including the Columbia River Highway which Sam helped persuade the state of Oregon to build and a test highway — the first paved road in Washington State — near the Museum.

Maryhill Museum picture
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Maryhill Museum with Mount Hood in Oregon just visible to the left.
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Sculpture garden behind Maryhill picture
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Sculpture garden
Sam Hill plaque picture
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Sam Hill
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Alma de Bretteville Spreckels painting
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Portrait of Alma Spreckels on Queen Marie's Throne
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Queen Marie's throne picture
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Queen Marie's Throne
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Queen Marie picture
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Exhibit poster
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Queen Marie's furniture picture
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Queen Marie's furniture
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Theatre de La Mode dolls picture
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Théâtre de La Mode dolls
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poupées - French dolls picture
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Native American Peoples
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Native American beadwork picture
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Native American basket exhibit picture

Loie Fuller — born Mary Louise Fuller in Illinois — was the catalyst for the development of the Maryville Museum. It was her idea to turn Sam's mansion into an "international museum of good will."
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"La Loie," the "Fée Lunineuse," or Fairy of Light as the French called her — had delighted Paris with her dancing at the Folies-Bergére and held many patents for innovative stage lighting and design.
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Loie met Alma de Bretteville Spreckels at a dinner party in France and introduced Alma to the sculptor Auguste Rodin whom Loie had known for many years. Loie had also known Queen Marie of Romania since the Queen was a crown princess.
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Loie's dance troupe performed at the 1914 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco where she met Sam Hill, a friend of King Albert, whom Alma entertained during the fair.
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Alma — a one time artist's model, who married a much older Adolph Spreckels of the Spreckels sugar fortune — became such friends with Sam Hill that she and Adolph named Sam godfather to their only son.

Loie Fuller convinced Queen Marie to come to the U.S. to dedicate the Maryhill Museum in 1926 although it was far from finished.
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It was Alma Spreckels continuing efforts that were primarily responsible for the museum's eventual opening in 1940, several years after Sam's death and twenty six years after construction of the mansion began.
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Alma was also responsible for a number of the exhibits at the museum including the collection of furniture from the Palace of the Queen of Roumania — the gold throne and other Byzantine furniture and much more. The furniture had originally been planned for the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco that Alma and Adolph had given to the city.
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The French Mannequins of the Theatre de La Mode were also obtained by Alma. After World War II the French fashion industry wanted to mount an exhibition, but fabric was not yet available so miniature one-third scale dolls — poupées — were dressed by leading French couturiers even to the point of exquisitely made lingerie that can't even be seen by those viewing the exhibits. The mannequins were placed in Tableaux painted by leading French artists.
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When the successful five year tour of the dolls ended in San Francisco in 1950, Alma convinced Paul Verdier — who had used the display to celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of his City of Paris Department Store — to contribute the poupées to the Maryhill Museum.
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Additional exhibits at Maryhill include a collection of sculptures and watercolors by Auguste Rodin, including the only pedestal sized plaster version of the The Thinker —with one foot missing because Rodin was not happy with it — and a life sized plaster of Eve from the famed "Gates of Hell."
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A Native American Collection of rare prehistoric rock carvings, intricate baskets and bead work, and a collection of historical and unique chess sets are also on permanent display.

Some of the information on this page came from the book Big Alma, San Francisco's Alma Spreckels by Bernice Scharlach which is highly recommended.
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If you enjoyed your virtual visit to the Maryhill Museum on iNeTours.com you might also want to tour San Francisco, the California Wine Country, New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, New Orleans and Yosemite National Park.

Auguste Rodin Sculpture at MaryHill Museum
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Auguste Rodin sculpture picture
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Auguste Rodin sculpture picture
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Auguste Rodin sculpture picture
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Auguste Rodin sculpture picture
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Auguste Rodin sculpture picture
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Chess Sets
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Chess Sets exhibit picture

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Website and all photos copyright © 2001–2015 Lee W. Nelson