Henry Huntington built a financial empire with railroad companies, utilities and real estate. He amassed one of the finest research libraries in the world, established a significant art collection and developed an array of botanical gardens.
The library houses one of the world’s greatest collections of rare books and manuscripts including a Gutenberg Bible and early editions of works by Shakespeare.
The European art collection is in the original Huntington mansion. The British portraits of the 18th and early 19th century is considered one of the greatest outside of London. There are several by Thomas Gainsborough including Blue Boy. Pinkie is among paintings by Thomas Lawrence. Landscape paintings by well known J.M.W. Turner and John Constable are represented. Priceless French furniture is seen in the period rooms. There is much to see with 2 levels of many rooms.
The Virgina Steele Scott Gallery of American Art displays paintings from the 1730s to the mid-1900s as well as Arts and Crafts architecture and furnishings of Greene and Greene. There are wonderful examples of the Hudson River School landscape paintings, American Impressionism, Colonial Period paintings etc. The lighting in this newer building is especially good.
Spring is a good time to see the botanical gardens that cover over 120 acres of with groupings of cacti, succulents, roses, herbs, etc. as well as Japanese and Chinese themes. Part of a large conservatory is a teaching greenhouse.
A café with outdoor tables under shade trees was a good spot for sandwiches and snacks. An English Tea is served in the Rose Garden Tea Room.
It is a challenge to see everything in one visit so it is worth several visits to see the seasonal flowers and changing exhibits. We took this trip with DayTrippers.