The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (or The Huntington) is a collections-based educational and research institution established by Henry E. Huntington and located in San Marino, California, in the United States. In addition to the library, the institution houses an extensive art collection with a focus in 18th- and 19th-century European art and 17th- to mid-20th-century American art. The property also includes approximately 120 acres of specialized botanical gardens, most notably the Japanese Garden, the Desert Garden, and the Chinese Garden (Liu Fang Yuan).
As a landowner, a businessman, and a visionary, Henry Edwards Huntington played a major role in the growth of Southern California. Huntington was born in 1850 in Oneonta, N.Y, and was the nephew and heir of Collis P. Huntington, one of the Big Four railroad tycoons of 19th-century California. In 1892, Huntington relocated to San Francisco with his first wife, Mary Alice Prentice, and their four children. He divorced Mary Alice Prentice in 1906, and in 1913 married his uncle's widow Arabella Huntington, relocating from San Francisco to Los Angeles. He purchased a property of more than 500 acres that was then known as the San Marino Ranch, and went on to purchase other large tracts of land in the Pasadena and Los Angeles areas for urban and suburban development. As president of the Pacific Electric Railway Company and the Los Angeles Railway Company, he spearheaded urban and regional transportation efforts to link together far-flung communities, supporting growth of those communities as well as promoting commerce, recreation, and tourism. He was one of the founders of the city of San Marino, incorporated in 1913.
Huntington's interest in art was influenced in large part by Arabella Huntington, and with art experts to guide him, he benefited from a post-World War I European market that was "ready to sell almost anything". Before his death in 1927, Huntington amassed "far and away the greatest group of 18th-century British portraits ever assembled by any one man". In accordance with Huntington's will, the collection, then worth $50 million, opened to the public in 1928.
The library contains a substantial collection of rare books and manuscripts, concentrated in the fields of British and American history, literature, art, and the history of science. Spanning from the 11th century to the present, the library's holdings contain 7 million items, over 400,000 rare books, and over a million photographs, prints, and other ephemera. Highlights include one of 11 vellum copies of the Gutenberg Bible known to exist, the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer ca. 1410, and letters and manuscripts by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln. It is the only library in the world with the first two quartos of Hamlet; it holds the manuscript of Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, the first seven drafts of Henry David Thoreau's Walden, John James Audubon's Birds of America, and first editions and manuscripts from authors such as Charles Bukowski, Jack London, Alexander Pope, William Blake, Mark Twain, and William Wordsworth.
The Main Library Exhibition Hall showcases some of the most outstanding rare books and manuscripts in the collection, while the West Hall of the Library hosts rotating exhibitions. The Dibner Hall of the History of Science is a permanent exhibition on the history of science with a focus on astronomy, natural history, medicine, and light.
With the 2006 acquisition of the Burndy Library, a collection of nearly 60,000 items, the Huntington became one of the top institutions in the world for the study of the history of science and technology.
Use of the collection for research is restricted to qualified scholars, generally requiring a doctoral degree or at least candidacy for the Ph.D. and two letters of recommendation from known scholars. Through a rigorous peer-review program, the institution awards approximately 150 grants to scholars in the fields of history, literature, art, and the history of science. Through the Huntington Library Press, the institution produces the Huntington Library Quarterly and several books each year. Scholarly pursuits lead to best-selling books, Pulitzer prizes, acclaimed documentary films, and many of the history and social studies textbooks that educate the nation's school children. The Huntington also hosts numerous scholarly events, lectures, conferences, and workshops.
Through a partnership with the University of Southern California, The Huntington has established two research centers: the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute and the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West.
The Huntington's collections are displayed in permanent installations housed in the Huntington Art Gallery and Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of American Art. Special temporary exhibitions are mounted in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery, with smaller, focused exhibitions displayed in the Works on Paper Room in the Huntington Art Gallery and the Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing of the Scott Galleries.
The European collection, consisting largely of 18th- and 19th-century British & French paintings, sculptures and decorative arts, is housed in The Huntington Art Gallery, the original Huntington residence. The permanent installation also includes selections from the Arabella D. Huntington Memorial Art Collection, which contains Italian and Northern Renaissance paintings and a spectacular collection of 18th-century French tapestries, porcelain, and furniture. Some of the best known works in the European collection include The Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough, Pinkie by Thomas Lawrence, and Madonna and Child by Rogier van der Weyden.
Complementing the European collections is the Huntington's American art holdings, a collection of paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, and photographs dating from the 17th- to the mid-20th century. The institution did not begin collecting American art until 1979, when it received a gift of 50 paintings from the Virginia Steele Scott Foundation. Consequently, The Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of American Art was established in 1984. In 2009, the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries were expanded, refurbished, and reinstalled. The new showcase, a $1.6-million project designed to give the Huntington's growing American art collection more space and visibility, combines the original, 1984 American gallery with the Lois and Robert F. Erburu Gallery,a modern classical addition designed by Los Angeles architect Frederick Fisher. Highlights among the American art collections include Breakfast in Bed by Mary Cassatt, The Long Leg by Edward Hopper,Small Crushed Campbell's Soup Can (Beef Noodle) by Andy Warhol, and Global Loft (Spread) by Robert Rauschenberg.
In 1999, the Huntington acquired the collection of materials relating to Arts and Crafts artist and designer William Morris amassed by Sanford and Helen Berger, comprising stained glass, wallpaper, textiles, embroidery, drawings, ceramics, more than 2,000 books, original woodblock prints, and the complete archives of Morris's decorative arts firm Morris & Co. and its predecessor Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.These materials formed the foundation for the 2002 exhibit "William Morris: Creating the Useful and the Beautiful."
In 2005, actor Steve Martin gave $1 million to the Huntington to support exhibitions and acquisitions of American art, with three-quarters of the money to be spent on exhibitions and the rest on purchases of artworks. In 2009, Andy Warhol's painting Small Crushed Campbell’s Soup Can (Beef Noodle) (1962) as well as group of the artist's Brillo Boxes were donated by the estate of Robert Shapazian, the founding director of Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills. In 2011, a $1.75-million acquisition fund for post-1945 American art was established by unidentified patrons in honor of the late Shapazian. The first purchase from the fund was the painting Global Loft (Spread) (1979) by Robert Rauschenberg.
The Huntington's botanical gardens cover 120 acres (485,624 m²) and showcase plants from around the world. The gardens are divided into more than a dozen themes, including the Australian Garden, Camellia Collection, Children's Garden, Desert Garden, Herb Garden, Japanese Garden, Lily Ponds, North Vista, Palm Garden, Rose Garden, the Shakespeare Garden, Subtropical and Jungle Garden, and the Chinese Garden (Liu Fang Yuan 流芳園 or the Garden of Flowing Fragrance).
The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science has a large tropical plant collection, as well as a carnivorous plants wing. The Huntington has a program to protect and propagate endangered plant species. In 1999, 2002, 2009 and 2010, specimens of Amorphophallus titanum, or the odiferous "corpse flower", bloomed at the facility.
The Desert Garden, one of the world's largest and oldest outdoor collections of cacti and other succulents, contains plants from extreme environments, many of which were acquired by Henry E. Huntington and William Hertrich (the garden curator). One of the Huntington’s most botanically important gardens, the Desert Garden, brings together a plant group largely unknown and unappreciated in the beginning of the 1900s. Containing a broad category of xerophytes (aridity-adapted plants), the Desert Garden grew to preeminence and remains today among the world’s finest, with more than 5,000 species.
The Camellia Collection, recognized as an International Camellia Garden of Excellence, includes nearly 80 different camellia species and some 1,200 cultivated varieties, many of them rare and historic. The Rose Garden contains approximately 1,200 cultivars (4,000 individual plants) arranged historically to trace the development of roses from ancient to modern times.
The gardens are frequently used as a filming location. Footage shot there has been included in:
- Mame (1974)
- Only Yesterday (Music Video) - Carpenters (1975)
- Midway (1976)
- Beverly Hills Cop 2 (1987)
- The "Ordinary World" music video by Duran Duran (1993)
- Indecent Proposal (1993)
- Beverly Hills Ninja (1997)
- The Wedding Singer (1998)
- Mystery Men (1999)
- Charlie's Angels (2000)
- The Wedding Planner (2001)
- The Hot Chick (2002)
- S1m0ne (2002)
- Anger Management (2003)
- Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
- Starsky & Hutch (2004)
- Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
- Serenity (2005)
- Ned's Declassified Field Trip, the final episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide (2007)
- National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007), used as the White House rose garden
- CSI Miami You May Now Kill the Bride (2008)
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), used during the flashback fighting scenes between ten year-old Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.
- A Beautiful End music video by J.R. Richards (2009)
- The Muppets (2011)
- Bridesmaids (2011), the driveway to Helen's bridal shower
Images of The Huntington
Flowers in Huntington Gardens
Wisteria arbor, April 2009
- List of botanical gardens in the United States
- The Constance Perkins House, donated to the Library in 1991
- List of museums in California
- Hertrich, William. "The Huntington Botanical Gardens, 1905-1949 Personal Recollections of William Hertrich." Huntington Library Press. 1998. ISBN 978-0-87328-096-9.
- The common appellation of The Huntington may also refer to the Huntington Hospital.
- "$50,000,000 Huntington Collection was Amassed by One Man in 17 Years". Life. 1938-01-24. p. 33. Retrieved November 24, 2011.
- Huntington Library In Fact, 2012-2013
- Suzanne Muchnic (May 30, 2009), American art gets a higher profile in U.S. museums Los Angeles Times.
- Huntington Library; "William Morris: Creating the Useful and the Beautiful"
- Suzanne Muchnic (February 8, 2005), Huntington gets arts endowment Los Angeles Times.
- Pop Art Comes to The Huntington The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
- Jori Finkel (June 7, 2012), Huntington buys a Robert Rauschenberg Spread painting Los Angeles Times.
- Carol Pogash, (February 20, 2012)."Berkeley’s Artwork Loss Is a Museum’s Gain". New York Times
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