The day after going to Angelino Heights, my aunt and I met in Long Beach and carpooled to the Huntington Library in San Marino, which is near Pasadena. The Huntington is much more than a library - it's a art collection and archive set admist spectacular gardens of many different themes. The Library was founded in 1919 by railroad baron Henry Huntington (there are a lot of things in Los Angeles named after Huntington) who spared nothing in developing this place.
Before I went to the Huntington for the first time about a year ago, I always equated the Huntington as "just an archive" - although what a spectacular archive it is. These have an Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (c.1410), a Gutenberg Bible (c.1455),several original manuscripts dating back to the 1400s, and a extensive collection of other works for each century dating up to today. And then there's the art gallery, which includes Blue Boy. The Art Gallery was remodeled and reopened this spring.
There is a rose garden, an herb garden, a Shakespeare garden, an Asian garden, a camellia garden, and on and on. there's no way you can see all of it in one day. And then there's the Tea House, which is the building in the photo at the beginning of this post. What a tea: for around $25 a person, you get wonderful atmosphere and a buffet of all you can eat, including the traditional finger sandwiches but also other goodies like salads, caviar, strawberries and cream. That's the good thing about this place: even though it's "tea" it shouldn't scare off those with big appetites because...it's all you can eat. You should have reservations - even in the middle of the week, it gets crowded.
Do I sound like a brochure yet? I guess I can't help but show how much I love this place. There are a few things that I think should be noted. One thing is the hours. The place doesn't open until 10:30 and closes at 4:30. For those of you wanting to take photographs there, this is a drag. If you're one of those photographers that believes in early morning or late afternoon light, you're not going to get it here. It's been a source of frustration for me to go there and want to capture the great gardens and the plants, but there's that awful noontime glare. The only way to get around it is if you go on a cloudy day, or if you don't mind spending a lot of time with Photoshop.
The Huntington gets very crowded on the weekends, especially during the summer. it's also blazing hot in Pasadena during the summer so that's another consideration.
One more thing that was disappointing for me this time was the placement of the special exhibits. I was looking forward to seeing the photography exhibit "This Side of Paradise," and we saved it for the end of the day. We didn't know until we were in there that part of the exhibit is located in another building....waaaaaay on the other end of the property. After walking for a few hours already in the heat, we certainly didn't want to go for another hike. A good portion of the photographs I wanted to see were in the other building. So that was a disappointment for me, and the exhibit closes on the 15th of September.
But I think those things are minor. For the most part, this is one of those places that I will probably never tire of.
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