Museum Spotlight: The Huntington Library

For today’s museum spotlight, we’re going to take a look at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens!

The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. c/o wikimedia

A nonprofit research and educational institution founded in 1919, the Huntington Library showcases what were the private collections of art and manuscripts of businessman of Henry E. Huntington. Housed on Huntington’s former estate in San Marino, California, the collection has only grown since Huntington’s passing in 1927. The

Thomas Gainsborough’s “The Blue Boy,” part of the Huntington Library and Art Collection’s permanent collection. c/o

Library and Art Collections feature a staggering collection of precious manuscripts dating from the 11th century to the present and European art from the 15th to early 20th centuries. The Botanical Gardens make up over 120 acres of diverse plant life.


While the Library is the biggest building on the property, the Art Collections are divided into two buildings, one featuring European art and another featuring solely American art. According to the Huntington’s website, the collection contains over 650 paintings and 440 sculptures, and houses a large collection of 18th- and 19th-century British paintings as well as American paintings ranging from the 17th century to the 1950s. Highlights include Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy and Sir Thomas Lawrence’s Sarah Barrett Moulton: Pinkie, both featured in the Art Docent Program’s 3rd-grade curriculum, as well as Mary Cassatt’s Breakfast in Bed and Edward Hopper’s The Long Leg–artists both featured in Art Docent Program curriculum. Out of the 7 million manuscripts and 420,000 rare books the Library houses (don’t worry–they’re not all on display!), highlights include Art Docent Program artist John James Audubon’s Birds of America, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s notebooks, a Magna Carta a Gutenberg Bible, and the Ellesmere Chaucer, what is considered to be the best-surviving medieval manuscript of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales–a manuscript so richly illuminated it must have belonged to a royal.

Sir Thomas Lawrence’s “Pinkie,” which hangs opposite Gainsborough’s “The Blue Boy” at The Huntington Library.

The grounds themselves are also impressive. With a spectacular view of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Botanical Gardens house a range of plants from diverse climates and regions. Highlights include the Chinese Garden and teahouse, the Desert Garden, the Japanese Garden, a Conservatory and Children’s Garden, and the very Tom-Stoppard’s-Arcadia-esque Rose Garden and tearoom. Sculptures can be found peppered throughout the property as well.

Section from the Ellesmere Chaucer, part of the Huntington Library’s permanent collection. c/o


The Huntington Library houses a pretty impressive collection, one of the best I’ve seen in southern California. It’s great because if you get tired of looking at art, you can just pop outside for a bit of scenery. The Library and Art Collections are also pretty kid-friendly, too. The last time I went I saw plenty of kids having a great time. And fun fact: the first Thursday of every month is free day! You have to register in advance for free tickets, but it’s totally worth it. Be sure to check out the Library’s website for more details. So the next time you’re in and around Pasadena, check out the Huntington Library and Art Collections!



Mary Cassatt’s “Breakfast in Bed,” part of the Huntington’s permanent collection. c/o


The Huntington’s Chinese Garden. c/o
The Huntington’s Rose Garden. c/o


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