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The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens — or more commonly known as The Huntington — is a vast property filled with rare books, works of art, and beautiful gardens. The estate covers more than 120 acres in San Marino, located near Pasadena. The Huntington is a wonderful place to visit for fans of gardens, manuscripts, and art.
Update: In celebration of its 100th anniversary in September 2019, The Huntington updated its name to include “Art Museum” rather than “Art Collections.” The institution is now known as The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.
Here’s everything you need to know to plan your visit to The Huntington Library near Los Angeles, California.
About The Huntington Library
The Huntington was originally the home of Henry E. Huntington and Arabella Huntington. The couple fostered their interest in art by collecting a large number of notbale works. In 1919, the Huntingtons created a trust that would turn their residence and grounds into an institution dedicated to the “advancement of learning, the arts and sciences, and to promote the public welfare.” The private estate opened to the public in 1928 and today serves as a collections-based research and educational institution.
The Huntington is now home to gardens, art, and manuscripts. There are more than 16 gardens on the property, like the Japanese Garden, Desert Garden, and Subtropical Garden, showcasing unique plants from around the world. The Huntington is known for raising the rare corpse flower — a large flowering structure that grows for several years and then blooms for only one or two days and is characterized by its foul odor.
The art collections at the Huntington primarily focus on European and American art. The European art gallery is housed in the Huntingtons’ former home, where you’ll find pieces such as and Pinkie (1794) by Thomas Lawrence and The Blue Boy (1770) by Thomas Gainsborough. The large collection of American art features several notable pieces, including Mary Cassatt’s Breakfast in Bed (1897).
The library is filled with wonderful rare manuscripts ranging from the medieval period to the 20th century. Two of its most well known books are The Gutenberg Bible and Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (known as the Ellesmere Chaucer). Note that due to the fragile nature of the manuscript, the Ellesmere Chaucer is not always on display. It is in the gallery for a period of 18 months, then it “rests” for six months (during this time a facsimile from 1995 is on display in its place). If you plan to make the pilgrimage just for Chaucer, be sure to check if the manuscript is on display ahead of time. The library also houses fascinating historical American manuscripts and spotlights local California history.
Additionally, The Huntington hosts a variety of events, such as kid-friendly and family activities, lectures, and classes. A variety of tours are also available for individuals, groups, and schools. Finally (fun fact!), the grounds have been used in many films and television shows, such as Heathers, The Wedding Singer, Bridesmaids, and Parks and Recreation.
Tickets and Hours
The price of admission to The Huntington Library varies. A regular adult ticket is $25 on weekdays and $29 on weekends. There are discounts available for seniors, students, youth, and active military. Children younger than four years old can visit for free. Tickets can be purchased online before your visit or when you arrive.
The Huntington also has days when you can visit for free. Free days are the first Thursday of every month. Advance reservations are required to visit on free days.
The Huntington Library is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except Tuesday. It is closed on Tuesday. The Huntington is closed on Independence Day (July 4), Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November), Christmas Eve (December 24) and Christmas Day (December 25).
How to get to The Huntington
The Huntington Library is located in a residential area of San Marino, near Pasadena. To get to the Huntington, you can drive or take public transportation, but it’s easiest to drive.
Depending on where in Los Angeles you’re coming from, you’ll use either the 210 or the 110 freeways to reach the Huntington Library. You can enter the grounds from either Oxford Road or Allen Avenue. Parking is free. The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108.
As The Huntington is a bit tucked away in a residential area, there aren’t any bus or metro stops super close. The nearest bus stops are located along Huntington Drive, about one mile from the entrance. However, there are bike racks available, as well as pick up and drop off points for Uber and Lyft. So, if you have a bike, use ride sharing apps, or don’t mind a bit of a walk, then public transit is an option as well.
Rules and Tips
Here are some rules to keep in mind and tips for your visit to The Huntington.
- There are several dining options at The Huntington. Among them is afternoon tea in the Rose Garden Tea Room, offering a traditional tea service with modern California touches. There are vegan and gluten free options as well, plus wine and cocktails, and you can make reservations prior to your visit.
- There are free lockers available to check large bags or backpacks.
- You are allowed to film and take photos. However, inside the galleries and other buildings, it is forbidden to use flash photography, tripods, or selfie sticks. Outside in the gardens you are allowed to use these items.
- Remember to always keep a safe distance away from the artwork. Additionally, make sure to keep noise to a minimum inside the galleries.
- No food, drink, or strollers are allowed inside the galleries.
- Respect the grounds and keep them beautiful by not picking flowers, leaves, or fruit.
- Smoking is not allowed at The Huntington.
- The grounds of the Huntington are covered with beautiful trees and plants, and as such have become a home for local wildlife. Watch out for any critters and remember never to approach or feed wild animals.
The Huntington is a wonderful estate brimming with plant life, European and American artwork, and fascinating historical manuscripts. It’s one of the best cultural institutions in Southern California and definitely worth a visit for anyone who enjoys gardens, art, and books.