A couple rests by the koi pond in the Japanese Garden at the Huntington Library and Botanic Gardens. The Japanese Garden was first opened in 1912 and refurbished in 2011. / photo by Casi Martinez
by Ramon Morales
photography by Casi Martinez
“I’ve been to a lot of museums and art shows because that’s what I love, but I keep coming back to The Huntington.”
Sandra Gutierrez is not alone among visitors who have felt the magnetic pull of San Marino’s Huntington Library over the years. The expansive grounds are peaceful and inviting, and the exhibits themselves take a backseat to none when it comes to world-class art.
The moon bridge and Golden Niobe Willow tree set above the koi pond are just a small part of the Japanese Garden landscape at the Huntington Library. / photo by Casi Martinez
The Library reopened its Historic Rose Garden Tea Room this spring. It had closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and has gone through some major renovations. The Library also plans to launch a 320-year-old Japanese Heritage House in the fall of 2023, which will offer visitors a glimpse into rural Japanese life 300 years ago.
The Huntington has become something of a melting pot of cultures, captured in its expansive array of artwork and displays. But it wasn’t always this way. The Library was founded in 1919 by Henry E. Huntington with the purchase of a simple church library.
With the addition of mid-twentieth century art, as well as the cultivation of its meticulously landscaped gardens, the Library has grown into a treasured destination which draws some 600,000 visitors from around the world annually.
One of the of the biggest draws for tourists are the gardens, which span some 130 acres and include 16 different themed gardens, including the Japanese Garden, the Jungle Garden, the Lily Garden, the California Garden and the Australian Garden.
Not only tourists, but researchers, too, make regular use of the Library’s vast resources. More than 11 million carefully documented items that span the history of over 10 centuries are available to researchers upon request.
“I have been coming to this library for many years,” said area resident Alonso Espinoza. “My dad used to bring me here because he liked to admire the scenery, and now I get to bring my kids. It’s special for me, and I hope to make it special for them, too. My dad used to do a lot of his research for his job here, and I would walk around the grounds while he studied. It brings back some of the best memories I’ve had with him.”
“The Book of Hours” is an illuminated manuscript from Italy published between 1485 and 1499. It contains spiritual texts and prayers honoring the Virgin Mary. The Huntington Library contains more than 11 million items in its collection and has 8.8 million manuscripts. / photo by Casi Martinez
The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens provide a peaceful space for visitors to enjoy and explore. The Huntington began as the private collection of art, botanical and libraries amassed by Henry Edwards Huntington and his wife Arabella Duval Huntington. It became a public institution welcoming its first visitors in 1928. / photo by Casi Martinez
Roberta and David Langenstein from Pasadena frequently visit the Huntington to enjoy the picturesque scenes of the Chinese Garden. The gardens are a perfect place to relax amid different environments from around the world. / photo by Casi Martinez
The Flowery Bush Library, located in the Courtyard of Assembled Worthies, showcases architecture inspired by the Hall of Distant Fragrance, located in the Gardens of Humble Administrator in Suzhou, China. / photo by Casi Martinez
The Garden of Flowing Fragrance, or Liu Fang Yuan, is the Chinese Garden located at the Huntington featuring traditional plants and architecture. / photo by Casi Martinez
“Hauling in the Net, Twilight,” by the 19th-century French painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, depicts a fisherman on a boat finishing his work as the sun sets. The Huntington art museum has a collection of more than 45,000 pieces from European and American art. / photo by Casi Martinez
The Garden of Flowing Fragrance or Liu Fang Yuan, is the Chinese Garden featuring plants and architecture in the landscape. The garden is inspired by the Suzhou gardens from the ming dynasty located in southeastern China. / photo by Casi Martinez