About The Huntington


Welcome to The Huntington, one of the world’s great cultural, research, and educational centers.

A private, nonprofit institution, The Huntington was founded in 1919 by Henry E. Huntington, an exceptional business leader and a man of vision. During his lifetime, Huntington amassed the core of one of the finest research libraries in the world, established an impressive art collection, and created an array of botanical gardens with plants from around the globe.


Today The Huntington is host to more than 750,000 visitors and 1,700 scholars each year.




The Library collection includes more than seven million manuscripts; 420,000 rare books; and 1.3 million photographs, prints and ephemera. The general public can view some of the finest rare books and manuscripts of Anglo-American civilization, including the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a Gutenberg Bible on vellum, the double-elephant folio edition of Audubon’s Birds of America, and a world-class collection of the early editions of Shakespeare’s works. The Dibner Hall of History and Science takes visitors on a journey through the development of astronomy, natural history, medicine and light.


For qualified scholars, The Huntington is one of the largest and most complete research libraries in the United States in the fields of British and American history. The Huntington is also among the nation’s most important centers for the study of the American West.



Art Collections

The Art Collections are distinguished by their specialized character and elegant settings in three separate galleries on the Huntington grounds. A fourth space, the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery, hosts changing exhibitions. The collections focus on European art from the 15th, to the early 20th century and American art from the late 17th to the mid-20th century. The holdings continue to grow by gift and purchase. The Huntington Art Gallery, originally the Huntington residence, contains one of the most comprehensive collections in this country of 18th- and 19th-century British and French art. It serves as home to Gainsborough’s Blue Boy and Lawrence’s Pinkie. On display in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, The Huntington’s American art collection includes works from the 1690s to the 1950s, including important paintings such as Mary Cassatt’s Breakfast in Bed, Frederic Edwin Church’s Chimborazo, and Edward Hopper’s The Long Leg


Botanical Gardens


Encompassing 120 acres, the botanical gardens contain more than a dozen principal garden areas. Among the most remarkable are the Desert Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, and the Chinese Garden. The camellia collection is one of the largest in the country. Other important botanical attractions include the Subtropical, Herb, Jungle, and Palm gardens.


To the north of the Scott Galleries sits the Botanical Education Center featuring the Helen and Peter Bing Children’s Garden, the Teaching Greenhouse, and The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science. The Conservatory provides children and families with exhibits designed to capture the imagination, engage the senses, and teach some of the fundamentals of botany. The Children’s Garden is most suitable for kids ages 2-7; the Conservatory is designed for middle-school-age students.



Every year, more than 1,700 scholars from around the world conduct advanced humanities research at The Huntington, resulting in best-selling books, acclaimed documentaries, and many of the history and social studies textbooks that educate the nation’s school children. Readers (as scholars at The Huntington are known) have included some 20 Pulitzer Prize-winning historians and other major prize winners in the fields of literature (Wallace Stegner), history (James McPherson, Irving Stone, and Gordon Wood), film and television (George Cukor and Ken Burns), and astronomy (Edwin Hubble), among others.


Through a rigorous peer-review program, the institution awards 150 grants to scholars in the fields of history, literature, art, and the history of science. Through the Huntington Library Press, the institution produces the Huntington Library Quarterly and several books each year. The Huntington also hosts scholarly conferences and workshops, symposia and special lectures.




The Huntington’s education programs serve a broad audience and provide enrichment for members of the institution, casual visitors, school teachers, children, and adults. Programs range from lively activities for preschoolers to intensive five-week institutes for K-12 classroom teachers.


On average, The Huntington’s school programs serve approximately 20,000 children and 750 teachers each year. Students from Southern California participate in 11 different school field trip programs, free of charge. Lesson plans developed by Huntington educators and scholars, and featuring The Huntington’s collections are put to use in schools nationwide in science, art, and the humanities.


Henry & Arabella Huntington

Henry Edwards Huntington was born in 1850 in Oneonta, New York. In 1872 he went to work for his uncle, Collis P. Huntington, one of the owners of the Central Pacific Railroad. Twenty years later, Huntington was on his way to San Francisco to help manage the Southern Pacific Railroad, when he stopped to visit the J. DeBarth Shorb estate, “San Marino.” He later purchased the estate, which today is home to his collections

Henry & Arabella Huntington In 1902, Huntington moved his business operations to Los Angeles, where he expanded the existing electric railway lines, creating the transportation system necessary to encourage growth. As a result, the population of the region tripled between 1900 and 1910.


Huntington was a prominent collector of rare books and manuscripts, and at the age of 60, announced his decision to retire to devote time to his collections. He also operated his 600-acre ranch as a commercial enterprise for several years.


In 1911 the large Beaux Arts mansion (now the Huntington Art Gallery), designed by architect Myron Hunt, was completed. Two years later, Huntington married Arabella Duval Huntington, the widow of his uncle Collis. Arabella was Henry’s age and considered to be one of the most important art collectors of her generation. Together, they grew the rich collection of art, books and manuscripts that served as the foundation for The Huntington.


In 1919, Henry and Arabella Huntington signed the indenture that transferred their San Marino property and collections to a nonprofit educational trust, creating The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. In 1920 the library building was completed to house Huntington’s outstanding collection of rare books and manuscripts.


Henry E. Huntington died in 1927; Arabella predeceased him by three years. Both are buried in the mausoleum on the property, designed by John Russell Pope, who later designed the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

About The Huntington

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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