huntington 7

Today was the last day of my research fellowship, and after nearly a month in residence at the Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens in Pasadena, California, I’m going home tomorrow. As I was walking around the grounds today–for the last time, at least for a while–I was struck again by how beautiful this place is, and how lucky I was to be able to do my historical research here. So I thought I’d throw a couple of photos I took around the Huntington grounds in the past month up here on the blog for whatever they’re worth.

The Huntington Library is the former estate of Henry E. Huntington and his wife Arabella, who were millionaire art and book collectors in the early part of the 20th century. Huntington made his fortune in real estate and railroads, and at the end of his life built a huge mansion in Pasadena which he hoped, after his and his wife’s deaths, would be turned into a museum to show off the art treasures they collected. Huntington also collected rare books, and his original collection became the nucleus of a vast research library with tens of thousands of priceless pieces. Arabella Huntington died in 1924, her husband in 1927, and in the decades since, their former estate has grown to encompass acres of museums, libraries, and gardens.

The top picture in this article is a view of the garden that used to be the Huntingtons’ front yard. Their huge mansion was turned into a large art museum housing their European treasures–including the original Blue Boy painting by Gainesborough–and the yard, studded with statues, has survived much as it was in the 1920s.

Without further ado, here are some more photos!

huntington 1

The Chinese garden at the Huntington. There’s a restaurant on site here, which served possibly the best food I had over the whole course of my trip.

huntington 2

Another view of the Chinese garden. The restaurant pavilion is at center.

huntington 3

The Chinese garden was designed with peacefulness and tranquility in mind–a very Buddhist (and Taoist) idea. This waterfall added to the ambiance.

huntington 4

The koi in the pond were so docile it looked like you could reach down and pick one of them up.

huntington 6

This flower was one of the many strange plants I discovered in the Conservatory, which also included a children’s garden where you could touch a lot of stuff. 

huntington 5

The “mist machine” at the children’s garden was very refreshing, especially since I visited it on a very warm afternoon.

huntington 8

The desert garden reminded me of some of the alien planet sets on the old 1960s Star Trek series.

It’s been a great month and I’ve found some interesting stuff in the archives, which I blogged about here, here and here, and I fell in love with a painting in the art museum. Overall, it was a great trip. If you should ever have a chance to visit Southern California, I highly recommend stopping in at the Huntington. It’s an oasis of beauty, art, culture and serenity in the midst of an urban environment. The world needs more of those.

All photos in this post are copyrighted (C) 2014 by Sean Munger. Please ask me for permission to use any of them.