One reason James J. Hill built a new home on Summit Avenue was to showcase his impressive collection of French landscape paintings. The spacious, two-story, skylit room was considered a model of a modern gallery when the home was completed in 1891.
Grooves along the walls enabled paintings to be hung frame to frame, several tiers high, and the skylight flooded the room with natural light—with shade provided by the large canopy and 133 carbon filament light bulbs for evening viewing. Paintings by 19th century Romantic and Barbizon French masters such as Corot, Courbet, Millet and Delacroix crowded the walls, bronze sculptures filled the floor space, and art books lined the shelves and tables. Today many of the works owned by Hill are part of the collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
A 1006-pipe mechanical action tracker organ stretched two stories tall on the west wall of the gallery. Installed in the house at the recommendation of the interior designers, the organ is still played most Saturdays and at many special events.
Find out what current exhibit is on display. Exhibits may be viewed as part of regular tours or with a gallery-only admission of $2.