Museums - Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
Lomita Drive and Museum Way
Stanford, CA 94305
Wednesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Museum hours are subject to change. Please contact museum before visiting to confirm the information listed is correct.
The Cantor Arts Center began as the Leland Stanford Jr. Museum and was conceived in tandem with the founding of Stanford University in 1891. The Stanford family, including Leland Jr., the founders’ son whose name the university commemorates, traveled the world collecting objects of art and cultural interest. The museum, which opened in 1894, was originally created to make this collection available to students and the public. It has withstood natural disasters and periodic neglect, only to be resurrected, renewed, and expanded with its collections stronger than ever.
A dozen years after it opened, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed two-thirds of the building and much of the collection. In 1945 the repaired facility was closed due to neglect. In 1963 efforts began to refurbish the museum, a slow process that was terminated by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which severely damaged the building and again forced it to close. This time recovery was faster and the museum reopened in 1999, significantly expanded and revitalized, as the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts
The center’s African art collection consists of approximately 500 works, with a comprehensive selection of figurative art from sub-Saharan Africa. Pieces in the collection have been selected for their aesthetic merit and cultural significance. Approximately seventy objects are currently on display in the gallery.
The Oceania and Indonesia collections feature 300 art objects and an additional 150 textiles. Fine objects from both collections share space in one gallery, in which Batak material is well represented.
The Native American collection focuses on North America, especially California, the Southwest, and the Northwest Coast. Of particular interest are baskets and related objects from the daily life of the Yurok, Karuk, and Hupa tribes of Northern California collected by John Daggett soon after the 1849 Gold Rush. This group of objects was part of the museum’s original collection and has since been both supplemented and broadened. Many of the other Native American objects came from the collection of Jane Stanford in the late nineteenth century.
The Ancient Americas collection of about 200 works of art, includes terracotta figures and vessels from West Mexico and a representative selection of works from other cultures in Mesoamerica, notably the Maya, Zapotec, and Veracruz. Central American and Peruvian cultures are also represented. Fine representative examples of ancient ceramics from the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, including Mimbres, Anasazi, and Casas Grandes, are included in the Ancient Americas display.
Victor and Paula Zurcher, the Christensen Fund, Marc and Ruth Franklin, Dr. and Mrs. Ralph Spiegl, and Mrs. Frederick Henry Colburn are among major donors of these collections.