Our Mission

The Timken Museum of Art preserves the Putnam Collection of European old 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 important role of art as a way of enriching the lives and nurturing the creative spirit in us all.


The Timken was created through the generosity of two families: the Timken family of Canton, Ohio, who wintered in San Diego and were principal benefactors of the Fine Arts Society (now the San Diego Museum of Art), and Anne and Amy Putnam, sisters who arrived in San Diego with their family in the early 1900s. In the 1930s and 40s, Anne and Amy Putnam began to purchase European paintings of distinction, which they anonymously donated to the Fine Arts Society.

In 1950, under the guidance of their attorney, Walter Ames, the Putnam sisters established a foundation whose sole purpose would be to acquire paintings of high quality. These works of art, however, were not destined to be exhibited in San Diego, but were to travel on loan to various institutions throughout the country, including the National Gallery of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fogg Art Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

In the early 1960s, Mr. Ames consulted with his client, Henry H. Timken, Jr., which resulted in the Timken Foundation offering to pay a substantial part of the cost of a new picture gallery for San Diego. The opening of the Timken in 1965 allowed for the return to San Diego of those Putnam paintings on loan to museums in the Midwest and East.

Click here for more information about the Putnam sisters, the Timken family and the museum's history

Click here to read about the architecture of the Timken Museum of Art

Amy Putnam

Anne Putnam

The Timken Family ca. 1900