In 1903 Henry Edwards Huntington, a wealthy businessman, purchased the “San Marino Ranch,” a working ranch that consisted of nearly 600 acres. His superintendent, William Hertrich, was influential in developing the various plant collections which comprise the foundation of today’s botanical gardens. Henry Huntington had a passion for collecting books and literature and built the Library in 1920 to house his collection. Arabella Duval Huntington, Mr. Huntington’s wife was a well-known art collector; her collections now reside in the Huntington manor.
At the heart of the Huntington is the Library, which contains over 6 million books, photographs, manuscripts in the fields of American and British history and literature. Only a small portion of the collection is displayed at one time between the Main Hall and West Hall. The Library collections range in the time periods from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. Proudly on display in the Main Hall is The Gutenberg Bible from 1455; it is breathtaking to see. The Library’s resources are available for research to qualified scholars.
Rose Garden Tea Room and Café
Visitors can sit amongst the beauty of the 3 acres of blooming Rose Gardens and drink tea and eat scones. A fresh pot of brewed tea and scones are served at each table. There is a central buffet with cheeses, fresh fruit, salads, finger sandwiches and petite deserts. There is no required dress code to dine at the Tea Room and children are more than welcome. The Café serves light meals and refreshments. Reservations are required for the Tea Room but not for the Café.
The Huntington Art Collections are held within two separate buildings: The Huntington Art Gallery and The Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art. A third building, the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery features changing art exhibitions. The current exhibition inside the Boone Gallery is “The House that Sam Built” which features Sam Maloof furniture and will be on display until January 30, 2012.
Huntington Art Gallery
The Huntington Art Gallery was originally the Huntingtons’ residence and now displays one of the greatest art collections outside of London and demonstrates how the Huntingtons used to live. Completed in 1911, the collection contains over 1,200 objects in over 55,000 square feet. The British portrait collection (including Pinkie and Blue Boy) focuses on the 18th and 19th century. Visitors can enjoy a free audio guide to the gallery to help bring their art experience to life.
Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art
The Scott Galleries hold The Huntington’s American Art Collections. The collections, which include art from as early as the 1690’s the gallery hosts one of the most interesting collections of American Art. Within 15 rooms that chronologically organize displays in thematic groupings from the infamous “Breakfast in Bed” by Mary Cassatt (1897) to the large abstract “Free Floating Clouds” by Sam Francis (1980) and everything in between. A free audio guide to the gallery is available near the main entrance.
Out of the 207 acres of the Huntington grounds, approximately 120 acres are landscaped with over 14,000 different plant varieties in over a dozen vibrant gardens. 40 gardeners, a curatorial staff of 7, and more than 100 volunteers maintain the botanical collections. The Huntington hosts the most remarkable themed gardens, which include the Desert Garden, Chinese Garden, Children’s Garden, Rose Garden, Jungle, Palm, Subtropical, Shakespeare, Camellia, Australian, Herb Gardens, Lily Ponds and Conservatory.
The Japanese Garden is one of the oldest and most elaborate of its kind in America. Currently under construction, portions of the Japanese Garden closed for refurbishment for a yearlong project in April of 2011 that will be re-opened for the garden’s centennial in April 2012. The Japanese garden will feature key elements such as: a refurbished Japanese house, new ceremonial tea garden, improvements to its accessibility amongst other things. The adjacent Zen Garden, Bonsai Garden and Chinese Garden were not closed during construction.
The Helen and Peter Bing Children’s Garden is located directly behind the Conservatory and invites children to explore and discover. The garden is designed for children 2 to 7 years old and focuses scientific principles related to earth, fire, air, and water with tons of hands on opportunities. Be prepared for your youngsters to have a ton of fun…and to get a little wet.
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 12:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Weekends: 10:30 AM – 4:30 PM
(open January 1, 2012)
Adults: $15.00 on weekdays and $20.00 on weekends
Seniors: $12.00 on weekdays and $15.00 on weekends
Students 12-18 years old (w/ID): $10.00 on weekdays and weekends
Youth 5-11 years old: $5.00 on weekdays and weekends
Children under 5 years old and members: FREE
Group rates are available.
Admission is free to the museum for all visitors on the first Thursday of every month with advanced tickets.
There is plenty of parking and it is free! No smoking is allowed, no picnics allowed on the grounds, no flash photography or use of tripods is allowed inside any of the buildings. Portrait and wedding photography is allowed by special permit. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes!