Best Little-Known Museum (2008)

Hispanic Society of America

The velvety maroon interior of the Hispanic Society of America, speckled with luminescent candy-copper-coated "lustre" tableware, occasionally reverberates with the voices of blue-shirted guards, but is mostly surface-of-the-moon reeaal quiet. The (not-such-a) big secret is the upside-down inscription that the Duchess of Alba aims a dainty digit at ("Solo Goya"—only Goya) in a portrait by her lover, whose name starts with a "G." But many items besides the oil-on-canvas anchors by Velázquez, El Greco, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, and Goya suggest their own myriad mysteries: If the azulejos de artes y oficios are tiles depicting jobs people worked in 18th-century Spain, then what does the guy with no left leg and missing right arm do, even if that crutch is actually an upside-down (again!) hoe? Not to mention the man and woman thumb wrestling. (Also nabs Most Stunning Gift Shop category.)


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