During my day-long visit to the Huntington, I alternated between strolling through the gardens and visiting the galleries to get out of the sun for a bit. I wrote previously about the gardens.
Henry and Arabella were both collectors and particularly enamored with Louis XVI French style. Their former residence is dedicated to showcasing European art and furnishings, leaning toward traditional portraits in massive, gilt frames.
I opted to take the free audio guide equipment on this gallery tour, which was a cellphone with a lanyard and headphones. It was awkward and nowhere near as pleasant as other devices I’ve used. Plus, the battery was low and I eventually quit using it – too tedious, and not particularly interesting, either.
The Virginia Steele Scott gallery is dedicated to American art, which I found more to my taste. It’s a large space with many rooms, some of which I had to bypass in the interest of time. Many of the works displayed are modern.
I’m no art critic/historian, so I won’t go into any great detail about artists and styles. I’ll just show you a few things I liked. In addition to paintings, photographs, and sculpture, the galleries had displays of American handicrafts and fiber arts.
The gentleman who provided me with my free ticket for the day and given me a brief tour through some of the gardens dismissed the Library exhibits. However, these intrigued me the most. I love libraries and all things associated with books.
The Main Exhibit Hall features documents from their vast collection of rare books and manuscripts. Though a few items on display are copies, most are the real deal. Huntington focused on British and American history, art and literature, as well as science history.
The latter subject is featured in the adjacent Dibner Hall part of the building. This exhibit consists of several rooms and has sections about natural history, astronomy, medicine, and light.
Entering Dibner Hall contrasted sharply from the dark, subdued main gallery space. The walls in the natural history/medicine room are a riotous, bloody red – nature in tooth and claw, I suppose. The astronomy room has soothing blue views of night skies.
While I certainly didn’t have enough time to see everything, I enjoyed what I did manage to explore.
Feature image: In a Quandry, or Mississippi Raftsmen at Cards, 1851, by George Caleb Bingham. I come across this piece regularly in my gold rush research, because my family traveled down the river to New Orleans on their way to California. It was fun to see the original.