Moody Currier (1806–1898) created an extraordinary legacy: his will provided for the establishment of an art museum in Manchester, New Hampshire. After his own death and that of his third wife, Hannah, in 1915, a board of trustees was appointed to carry out the Curriers' wishes. His bequest for the museum included a significant endowment for purchasing art, and as a result the Currier Museum of Art has been able to buy works of art that in turn have attracted generous donations from private collectors.
The earliest acquisition on display in this group of the Currier's European masterpieces is Portrait of a Lady of about 1506–10 by Lorenzo Costa, acquired in 1947, at which time the sitter was identified by some scholars as Isabella d'Este, the Marchioness of Mantua and one of the greatest female patrons of the Renaissance. The other works of art in the exhibition, purchased and donated, extend chronologically from the Renaissance to the middle of the twentieth century. They also survey a range of subjects, including religious scenes (The Holy Family of about 1520 by Joos van Cleve), portraits (Woman Seated in a Chair of 1941 by Pablo Picasso), and landscapes (Dedham Lock and Mill of 1820 by John Constable).
As the museum has grown over the years, its mission has remained true to the Curriers' vision "to elevate the quality of life in New Hampshire." After reopening in early 2008, the Currier Museum of Art will continue its commitment to art and education by acquiring important works and offering a wide range of programs.