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Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens

Things to do, Event spaces San Marino
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Huntington Library
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Photograph: Michael Juliano
Huntington Library
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Photograph: Michael Juliano
Huntington Library
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Photograph: Michael Juliano

Time Out says

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The Huntington will be reopening its outdoor gardens on July 1 (June 17 for members). Advance tickets are required.  Timed tickets will be released on Tuesdays at noon for the following seven days, so you don’t have to worry about all of the reservations being booked at once.

Almost all garden areas are open, but galleries, indoor spaces and high-touch areas like the children’s garden remain closed (with a planned reopening in the fall). You’ll need to wear a mask and undergo a temperature screening at the door. To accommodate the lower capacity, the Huntington will now be open on Tuesdays and offer select evening hours throughout July and August. And, perhaps even better, the museum’s free days aren’t going anywhere—in fact, the Huntington is planning two free days (up from the single day it typically offers) in July.

We had the chance to visit during the member preview period and found it as beautiful as ever, and a welcome stress-free escape. We spent around two hours strolling the grounds and—given that the gardens are operating at about a third of their normal capacity—were easily able to social distance.

There were some areas, like around the Chinese Garden, where people seemed to linger a bit more, but the Huntington has made sure that all narrow paths have been converted into one-way traffic. That’s something to keep in mind as your plot your course around the gardens: In the case of the Chinese Garden, it’s a one-way counterclockwise loop around the central pond, and the many small bridges have been converted into a one-way loop, as well. Similarly, in the Japanese garden, the steps from the Zen garden are one-way toward the Magistrate’s House; to head in the other direction, you’ll have to follow a path above the house and into the bonsai garden.

Our original write-up appears below.

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The bequest of entrepreneur Henry E. Huntington is now one of the most exquisite attractions in the Los Angeles region. It’s also not a destination easily explored in full during a single day: between the art, the library holdings and the spreadeagled outdoor spaces, there’s plenty to see, and most of it is best enjoyed at lingering leisure rather than as part of a mad day-long dash.

Once you’ve paid your admission, you’ll be close to the main library, which holds more than six million items—much of it open only to researchers (apply for credentials in advance of your visit). However, some of its most notable holdings, among them a Gutenberg Bible and the earliest known edition of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, are always on display in the adjoining exhibition hall, alongside regular themed temporary shows.

The art collection is almost as notable as the library’s collection. Built in 1910, the main house is home to a very impressive collection of British art, which includes Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy alongside works by Blake, Reynolds and Turner. And over in the newer Scott and Erburu Galleries, you’ll find a selection of American paintings.

However, despite all these cultural glories, the Huntington’s highlights are outdoors in its vast jigsaw of botanical gardens, arguably the most glorious in the entire Los Angeles region. The 207 acres of gardens, 120 acres of which are open to the public, are divided into a variety of themes: the Desert Garden, now a century old, is packed with cacti and other succulents; the Shakespeare Garden evokes a kind of Englishness rarely seen in England these days; the Children’s Garden is a delightful mix of educational features and entertaining diversions; and the Japanese garden is quietly, unassumingly magical. Most recent is the Chinese-themed Garden of Flowing Fragrance, a delicate environment built in part by Chinese artisans. Like much of this fabulous place, it’s best approached in slow motion.

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Details

Address: 1151 Oxford Rd
San Marino

Price: Weekday: $25; seniors and students $21; children 4–11 $13, under-4s free. Weekend: $29; seniors and students $24; children 4–11 $13, under-4s free. Free to all 1st Thu of month (advance tickets required). Parking free.
Contact:
Opening hours: Mon, Wed–Sun 10am–5pm; closed Tue
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  • Until Monday January 4 2021
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