Archer Milton Huntington, philanthropist, author, and art collector, was born in New York City on March 10, 1870. He was the son of John and Arabella Duval (Yarrington) Worsham. In 1884 Arabella Duval married railroad magnate Collis P. Huntington, who adopted her son. Archer took the name Huntington. He was educated by private tutors and later traveled and studied in Spain, where he collected a number of rare manuscripts, books, and some works of art. On August 6, 1895, he married Helen Manchester Gates in London, England. They divorced in 1918. On March 10, 1923, he married noted American sculptress Anna Vaughn Hyatt. He had no children by either marriage. Huntington devoted his life to philanthropic pursuits, donating land, money, and valuable collections to establish museums. In 1904 he founded the Hispanic Society of America, and by 1908 a free museum, library, and educational institution opened in a new facility in New York City. The library included Huntington's collection of over 40,000 volumes. In 1915 he donated property in New York City to establish the Museum of the American Indian. That same year he also donated property in the city to erect the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1921 he donated a new home to the American Numismatic Society, New York City. Other cultural institutions Huntington established were Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina (1930), the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, (1930), and the Archer and Anna Huntington Wild Life Forest Station in the Adirondacks for Syracuse University (1932). He donated a collection of Louis XV furniture to Yale University in 1926, and $100,000 to the National Sculpture Society for a sculpture exhibition in San Francisco in 1928.
Huntington's major cultural contribution to Texas was the establishment of the Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, now the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, at the University of Texas at Austin. His wife's sculpture, Diana of the Chase, was presented to the University by Mrs. T. S. Maxey. It was at this time, October 1927, when Huntington realized the need for an art museum at the University of Texas. He gave between 4,100 and 4,300 acres of land along Galveston Bay to the institution to serve as revenue for the establishment of an art museum. Over the years some 1,500 books from the Huntington estate were also given to the university from various sources. The art museum eventually opened in 1963.
Huntington was also an accomplished author-focusing on poetry and the translation of Spanish texts. His works include A Note Book in Northern Spain (1898), The Poem of the Cid (3 volumes, 1897–1903), Lace Maker of Segovia (1928), A Flight of Birds (1938), and Collected Verse (1953). Huntington was the recipient of numerous awards throughout his lifetime. In 1916 he received the Orden del Libertador of Venezuela, and in 1927 he was made chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France. In 1939 he was awarded the City of New York's Medal of Merit of the Saint Nicholas Society. In 1950 he received the Gari Melchers Gold Medal from Artist Fellowship, Incorporated, in recognition for his contribution to American art. In appreciation of his longtime interest and contributions to Spain, Huntington received the title of Hijo Adoptivo from the city of Seville in 1929. He was decorated by numerous orders in Spain including the orders of Alfonso XII, and Charles III, and was elected membership in many Spanish academies. He received honorary degrees from Yale University (1897), Harvard University (1904), Columbia University (1907, 1908), University of Madrid (1920), and Kenyon College (1921). Huntington served as president of the American Geographical Society (1907–15) and the American Numismatic Society (1905–10). He held memberships in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Royal Institute of Great Britain, Phi Beta Kappa, and British Institute of Philosophy among others. Archer M. Huntington died in Redding, Connecticut, on December 11, 1955.