Norton Simon Museum Review - A Private Collection Becomes One of the World's Greatest Museums

The Lovers by Fragonard

Norton Simon  (the obvious namesake of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California) not only had great success in business, he was also an avid art collector who within 30 years amassed what is widely regarded as one of the world's greatest private art collections.

One of the Halls

Unlike most museums of this sort, the Norton Simon feels bright and airy and contemporary although the art works in it have lived long, profound lives throughout many centuries and perhaps through many lands.


Norton Simon’s interest in art began in the 1950s with the works of Degas, Renoir, Gauguin and Cézanne. In the 1960s he shaped a major art collection of Old Masters, Impressionists and Modern works which expanded in the 1970s to include Indian and Southeast Asian art.

Ballerina Sculture by Degas

The architecture of the building alone is extraordinary and then there is one of the most incredible art collections one has ever seen, housed in magnificent galleries filled with the treasures he collected throughout the world including paintings, sculptures, and tapestries.  

Rembrandt's Self Portrait

The Painting of A Young Boy was Thought To Possibly Be Rembrandt's Son as a child

We were guided on our walk took through the giant rooms filled with Rembrandts, Van Goghs, Monets and the most spectacular array of art including breathtaking paintings, sculptures, and tapestries.

Van Gogh, Portrait of A Peasant

Painting by Van Gogh

On May 29, 1971, multi-millionaire industrialist, art collector and philanthropist Norton Simon, married actress Jennifer Jones, who is still very active in the museum.  Jones-Simon is Trustee Emeritus of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena.

Another Gorgeous Painting

When the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was newly built in 1965, The Norton Simon Foundation lent them most of his massive collection of artwork.

Lovely Sculpture

When Mr. Simon’s collection exceeded the capacity of that Museum to exhibit them, he developed a "museum without walls" concept, lending his art collections to museums throughout the world.

Painting of A Street On the Way to The Palace

“I am not essentially a religious person, but my feeling about a museum is that it can serve as a substitute for a house of worship. It is a place to respect man's creativity and to sense continuity with the past. It is a place to give us a feeling of the dignity of man and to help us to strive towards our own creativity and fulfillment.”
-    Norton Simon, 1974
All Photos @ by Judith Orr

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