Timken Museum of Art Timken Museum of Art

Timken Museum of Art

The Timken Museum of Art preserves the Putnam Collection of old European masters, American art, and Russian icons for the education and benefit of present and future generations of San Diego residents and visitors. The museum celebrates the vital role of art, enriching lives and nurturing the inventive spirit in us all.

Preserving a Collection of European Old Masters

Timken Museum of Art

The Timken Museum of Art was founded by two families: The Timken family from Canton, Ohio, and the Putnam sisters, Anne and Amy, who lived in San Diego in the early 1900s. Henry Timken was a 19th-century entrepreneur who emigrated from Europe and built his fortune in the machinery industry as an inventor and businessman before retiring in San Diego. The Putnam sisters were members of a wealthy and well-known local family that moved to San Diego at the turn of the 20th century.

Devoted to music and studying philosophy, history, and the Romance languages, the Putnam sisters began visiting galleries and developing relationships with leaders in the American and European art worlds. As a result of substantial inheritances from family members, the sisters pursued their passion for collecting old master works through the late 1930s and 1940s, which they donated anonymously to the San Diego Museum of Art and later loaned to various museums across the country. In 1950, under the guidance of their attorney, the sisters established the nonprofit Putnam Foundation, whose sole purpose was to acquire old master paintings.  

To secure the Putnam sisters' art for San Diego, the Timken Museum of Art was built with the financial support of the Timken Foundation and opened its doors to the public in 1965. Due to the very generous contributions that the Timken Family made to the cultural life of San Diego, the Institution was named the Timken Art Gallery. The museum currently provides a wide array of programs for students, veterans, senior citizens, and educators to strengthen their knowledge of art history and engage individuals in meaningful activities in the galleries.

GRoW Support


General Operating Support