The permanent collection represents the eclectic taste of the founder, Samuel Hill, and the network of friends that he cultivated in his quest to turning the castle on the Columbia River into a world-class art museum. Among these friends, the modern dancer Loïe Fuller provided the genesis of the collection including several works of her friend Auguste Rodin. Sam’s dear friend, Queen Marie of Romania, contributed Orthodox icons and memorabilia of her life. But it was Loïe who convinced her friend Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, wife of a San Francisco sugar magnate, to donate European and American paintings and her magnificent collection of object d’art from the palace of the Queen of Romania, making the collection of Romanian art and artifcats truly one-of-a-kind. It was also Alma’s suggestion to house the renowned Théâtre de la Mode at Maryhill Museum of Art.
The collection of art and artifacts of the indigenous people of North America began with a collection of baskets acquired by Sam Hill and continues to grow through purchases and gifts and represents nearly every basket making tradition and style in North America and works of art from prehistoric through contemporary.
Since that time the collection has continued to grow through museum acquisitions and gifts.
…nothing is typical and much is extraordinary. (Linda Brady Tesner)