Monday, June 13, 2011

A Day at the Huntington Library

The Huntington is a place that no Angelino (or visitor) should miss. The library is only one part of its 207 acres of art, koi ponds, and botanical gardens. The amount of things to see in this place can literally keep a person entertained for days. And there are ways to make your visit cheaper, if you know the right days to go.

The Botanical Gardens
Photo by Sean Byron
Of the 207 Huntington acres, 120 acres are botanical gardens. It would literally take someone several days, if not weeks, to view them all. It's hard to even list all the 12 gardens (which doesn't even include everything garden-related, like their greenhouse or botanical center.) They have an Australian, tropical, rose, desert, herb, and Shakespeare garden, just to name a few. It's easy to spend an entire day at even one of these gardens, especially if you get a docent to explain the details you might miss. (You can get these docent guided garden tours for free Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between noon and 2pm, or Sat/Sun between 10:30-2:30. For more information on all their tour options, click here.)  

The gardens are truly amazing, with no details spared. In the Chinese garden, they have a full koi pond, rock structures, and traditional Chinese buildings. They have lots of hands-on features in their children's garden, so kids can indulge in their urge to touch everything in sight. Since there's so many things to see, locals can return again and again and still experience something new.

The Art:
Photo by Curry Puffy
The Huntington houses an impressive array of famous artwork, concentrating on 18th and 19th century British and French art, and an American exhibition. There are three permanent art collections, plus a fourth that changes. They have famous works from Mary Cassatt, Rembrandt, and one of the largest collections of William Blake around. Sometimes the art and gardens are integrated, as there are many Europeans statues situated among the flowers and trees. Also, the amazing buildings that the galleries reside in are an art show in themselves. If you've already seen all the permanent collections, check their website for upcoming new shows.      

The Library:
Photo by Kevin T. Quinn
If you decide to actually visit the library portion of the Huntington, dismiss whatever comes to your mind when you think "library." There is over 6 million items of extremely rare books, manuscripts, and photos. They actually have the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Renaissance literature, medieval manuscripts, and a huge collection of early edition Shakespeare. Whether you're a scholar who wants to take advantage of the unparallelled research opportunities, or an English major who's going to geek out over Chaucer, the library at the Huntington is something not to be missed.

Admission to the Huntington varies depending on the day, your age, or student status. Here's a basic break-down:

Adults: $15     Seniors: $12     Students: $10     Age 5-11: $6     Under 5: free
Adults: $20     Seniors: $15     Students: $10     Age 5-11: $6     Under 5: free
Free Day! 
On the first Thursday of every month, admission is free! But you do need advance tickets, which you can get here. The hours on Free Day are 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. This is a great opportunity if you don't have the cash for a regular entrance, just be aware that it is more crowded on free day.

(Summer) Hours:
Monday-Sunday (excluding Tuesday): 10:30am-4:30pm
Tuesdays: Closed

Free! The Huntington has it's own large lots, which are free to park in. Bonus.

There is no food or picnicking allowed on the grounds. There is a grassy knoll near the parking lot for the purpose, or they sell food at their Tea Room and the Cafe.
Also, it's right nearby the Arcadia/Alhambra area, which has some great eats. Click here for suggestions. It is also right near Pasadena.

Other Info:
The Huntington has a great website, so check it out for any kind of info...bringing groups, art exhibits, directions, etc. Just don't miss this place, it's such a great day for visiting relatives, friends, or locals.
Address: 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA  91108
Phone: 626.405.2100

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