100 Staff Picks
I love the golden barrel cacti in the Desert Garden; they are especially beautiful in the late afternoon when the setting sun lights up their golden spines.
My favorite painting is Edward Hopper's The Long Leg. I grew up on the East Coast and spent many years going to Cape Cod with my family and friends. I am transfixed by the beauty and stillness that this artwork evokes. If I close my eyes I can hear the waves and seagulls as if I were there.
Edward Burne-Jones's towering stained glass window from a Lancashire chapel in the Huntington Art Gallery overwhelms. It's below you, above you, and most powerfully, right in front of you, glowing. I have been to that spot, midway up the back stairs, countless times, and there is so much to see in that window with figures, words, and colors that are always new and thrilling.
The Conservatory, because its greenhouse plants replicate a rainforest. The orchids are so beautiful, as are the carnivorous plants.
Vanessa, Visitor Services
In Becoming America I stand in front of the Amish Bar Pattern Quilt and marvel at its beauty. It gives me the same mystical feeling as a Rothko color painting.
Both the Chinese Garden and Bonsai Court, for the way they reflect beauty and culture.
Alex, Visitor Services
The vibrant and magnificent Sam Francis painting Free Floating Clouds in the Scott Galleries.
The aloes when they are in bloom.
I love the depiction of the night sky in the "Beautiful Science" exhibition. It's a gorgeous mural on the right side of the gallery, just as you walk in. If you look carefully at it, you can see a coyote baying at the moon.
Love to watch the bunnies cross the Education and Visitor Center allée as I head home for the day. They always bring a smile to my face and make me feel lucky to work in such a beautiful place.
I love taking my extended family and friends, especially those visiting from my father's country, Ecuador, to see Frederic Edwin Church's painting Chimborazo.
The California Garden's Eriogonum parvifolium (Sea cliff buckwheat), because it reminds me of Santa Barbara.
Kara, Visitor Services
The room in the Scott Galleries that holds Harriet Hosmer's huge marble Zenobia in Chains is a spare, tall, green room with a square cut out of the upper southwest corner, so that a beam of light is almost always shining down and moving across the floor. Sometimes the beam lands on the floor to the left of the brave queen of Palmyra and makes a perfect square. The room is an enchanting space that comes alive with the presence of a very particular beam of light.
Propagating in the Subtropical Garden while it is coming alive early on a Saturday morning is magical. As the sun ascends, all the creatures of the garden wake up and tweet, whistle, flutter, scamper, scurry, hunt, and play.
I love the bronze gates and the tree-lined walk to the Mausoleum, especially in light rain when no one is around.
I am enthralled by seeing morning light through a thin layer of fog over the Chinese Garden Lake.
As a lifetime lover of this beautiful flower, the Rose Garden is, and will always be, my "Huntington Happy Place."
Zenobia in Chains in the Scott Galleries, because the drapes on her clothes look lifelike.
Nicole, Visitor Services
I love to walk through the grove of timber bamboo that towers above the path at the south end of the Japanese Garden. In the early afternoon, sunlight streaming through the leaves turns the grove into a green cathedral.
Having tea on a rainy day in the Rose Garden Tea Room.
Lupe, Human Resources
The Edwin Hubble photographs of the Andromeda Galaxy and the Cepheid variable stars are super trippy. I like to sit on the bench and freak out (in a good way), thinking about my place in the universe. It helps give me perspective and fills me with a sense of peace and tranquility.
I love to sit by the waterfall in the Jungle Garden and unwind.
Standing in front of Lee Mullican’s Peyote Candle in the Scott Galleries is both meditative and visually stimulating. A real trip!
The Japanese Garden is wonderfully serene. It’s hard to beat the view of the mountains from the Japanese Tea Garden overlook.
I love the Bertoia chiming sculpture over to the north side of the Scott Galleries. Whenever it’s even remotely windy outside, I try to make a beeline over to see and hear it; it’s the only time it makes sound, and I find the whole experience charmingly musical. Even better, when I’m with school kids on a tour, they are just mesmerized to see the structure shift and bend. They stand transfixed, waiting to hear mesmerizing gong-like sounds.
A favorite is the sound of woodpeckers in the large bamboo stand down by the Lily Ponds.
The grove of trees just west of the Lily Ponds has the best benches for a quiet day with a good book.
The first bridge across the waterfall spillway in the Jungle Garden is situated so you can look up at the falls, feel a cool mist, and take in the cascading, rushing water. Look down from there, and the spillway is framed with lush greenery that can make you forget you are in the middle of residential San Marino.
The hushed, reverent silence of the Thornton Portrait Gallery.
Standing very still on the bamboo path that connects to the Japanese Garden and listening to the wind make shivery sounds through the bamboo leaves.
Ambling through the orange groves on a foggy winter morning while listening to the score from the 2005 film Pride & Prejudice.
The Huntington’s Japanese Garden captures the imagination; its calming greenery and stones restore the soul.
Aarum, Visitor Services
The hidden areas in the North Vista pathways, because you feel removed from your problems and feel peaceful.
Kristi, Visitor Services
The yellow leaves on the Zen Garden’s ginkgo trees in November transcend my spirit to heaven on earth.
Ally, Visitor Services
Walking into the Zen Garden, I am overcome with a sense of tranquility.
Reading in the Camellia Garden when the flowers are in bloom on one of the several benches tucked away there.
Lupe, Human Resources
I love walking through the bamboo forest paths down by the Lily Ponds. The way the sunlight filters through and reflects on the water makes this a favorite walk of mine.
The overwhelmingly pleasant springtime aroma of orange blossoms along Palm Drive.
I love visiting the Mausoleum, especially near sundown when the light is changing. Henry Huntington and his wife, Arabella, picked a great location—and because it doesn’t feel sad or morbid, it is just peaceful. You pass by the Orange Groves to get there, an area that dates back to the founders’ vision, which people usually miss during their first few visits.
I love The Huntington’s beyond-stupendous, world-class rare books and manuscripts on the history of science.
There is so much to learn at The Huntington. My favorite factoid is from the "Remarkable Works, Remarkable Times" exhibition, where I learned that in 1864, President Lincoln signed a bill to preserve Yosemite Valley, which was the first congressional act mandating the preservation of wilderness areas. California was the first!
David, Technical Information Services
I look forward to receiving The Huntington’s weekly "Verso" blog in my email inbox, as I always learn something new.
The Shakespeare Garden because the plants and flowers are mentioned in some of William Shakespeare’s plays.
Vasileia, Visitor Services
Attending a free lecture.
Lupe, Human Resources
I like to check out the astronomy materials in the "Beautiful Science" exhibition in Dibner Hall. There’s a beautiful handwritten book in Arabic from the late fourteenth century by Nasir al-Din Tusi. The penmanship is exquisite.
When I have questions in my own garden, I go to the Ranch Garden on Saturdays and get free gardening advice from the Master Gardeners who host its weekly open house.
Smelling the roses is a great way to learn more about the various cultivars.
Such a great collection of 17th and 18th-century chairs displayed in the Jonathan and Karin Fielding Wing of the Scott Galleries. Fascinating to think how each chair once resided in an early American family home.
Ben, Technical Information Services
I love to look at the Library’s Susan B. Anthony artifacts and appreciate the opportunity to learn more about her tireless quest for women’s suffrage.
There’s so much to learn about the American Arts and Crafts movement by visiting the Greene and Greene exhibition on display in the Scott Galleries. Some furniture pieces are presented in a way that lets you see up close the remarkable craftsmanship employed by the two brothers, who left behind such an architectural and design legacy.
Jennifer, Visitor Services
There’s a reading room on the west side of the Library building adjacent to the "Beautiful Science" exhibition. It’s stocked with several shelves of science books (medicine, natural history, light, and more) and comfy chairs. It’s a quiet spot to sit and read more deeply about the science topics explored in the exhibition.
A fun way to experience the Huntington Art Gallery is with a “Frame Tour.” The exquisite gilt frames on the paintings play a supporting role to The Huntington’s masterpieces, but they are works of art in and of themselves.
My favorite spot is the Edward Weston room in the Scott Galleries of American Art. In the 1940s, Weston donated 500 prints he made from negatives to The Huntington. Twice a year, a fresh selection of images is perfectly framed in this intimate gallery space. I love getting attached to a print through repeat visits only to have it disappear and be replaced by a new batch that contains a print even more interesting.
I enjoy helping visitors discover the monstrous staghorn fern near the top of the Jungle Garden.
In the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, my favorite piece to visit is an eighteenth-century sewing table that I really connect with. I come from a long line of seamstresses, and it’s fun to think about how important sewing has been for women through the centuries as a means of status, income, and creative expression.
Brandi, Volunteer Services
Seeing parrots fly about in the Desert Garden. I also keep an eye out for red-tailed hawks, red-whiskered bulbuls, and the lone white egret that visits frequently. And of course, all the rabbits and hummingbirds. I also hope to see that bobcat I encountered once in the Australian Garden.
Taking a photo in the marble lion armchair at the entrance of the Camellia Garden. Wear a crown purchased at the Huntington Store if it’s your birthday.
Lupe, Human Resources
Taking friends and family through the Library Exhibition Hall and stopping to enjoy an image I’ve never seen before in Audubon’s Birds of America.
The Desert Garden is my go-to; its whimsical variety of plants transports me into a Dr. Seuss book.
Brooke, Visitor Services
I love looking at the women’s fashions in the portraits in the Huntington Art Gallery, but mainly I am fascinated by the hair. I’ve since learned that these towering hairstyles were often decorated with feathers, jewels, even wax fruit, ships, and birdcages, among other oddities. You can’t make this stuff up!
The bamboo pathway in the Japanese Garden makes me feel that I’m in Japan.
Flora, Visitor Services
There’s a “throne” on a path through the camellias that surround the North Vista. It’s a little hidden, which adds to the fun of happening upon it. I love it because visitors are drawn to sit and pose for pictures there. When they do, they take on the air of royalty, and The Huntington is their realm. This sums up for me the feeling of specialness and belonging that The Huntington can give people. The smooth patina created by so many hands resting on the lions on the arms speaks of all the people—young and old, from many places and backgrounds—who have had that experience.
Watching the turtles in the Lily Ponds.
My favorite Huntington thing is the Desert Garden specifically, and the grounds in general. I don’t think anyone who visits isn’t moved and awestruck by the gardens, which are not only beautiful and interesting, but valuable living collections themselves.
Catching the puyas in bloom is incredible. The electric colors seem unnatural.
I love when the water lilies are in bloom in the Chinese Garden.
I keep discovering cool things in the Fielding Wing of the Scott Galleries of American Art. I thought the grandfather clock in one of the galleries was made of exotic wood and some sort of marble inlay, and then when I walked up to it, I learned that it was painted to look that way. So very cool.
My favorite thing is to “smell” The Huntington. I go to the Desert Garden when the acacia trees are blooming and smell the perfume from the little yellow pom-pom blossoms, to the Rose Garden to smell the different blooming roses, and to the Chinese Garden to smell the sweet osmanthus trees.
I love the Peruvian ceviche in the 1919 restaurant. I also love National Croissant Day, when the Red Car coffee shop here gives out free croissants in the morning.
The whimsical gnome door in the Rose Garden, along the path under which the wisteria grows, is so cute.
Lupe, Human Resources
I love the smell of sweet olive in bloom in the Camellia Garden. Coupled with fresh mulch, it’s heaven.
Perusing the fragrant rose bed with my nose—attar, lemon, spice, and even Pond’s cold cream!
A favorite thing is taking a midday walk through the Desert Garden. It’s a surreal and inspiring experience, and I always notice something I haven’t seen before.
I love how you can wander the Huntington Art Gallery and have a different fantasy in each room. In the grand hallway, you feel like the mistress of the grand house; in the drawing-room, you are a fancy guest, ready to sit in a gilded chair and take a sherry. And then, in the back staircase, you are completely someplace else. You can climb the humble, dark steps like one of the wait staff in the great house, but midway up, you are suddenly somewhere distinctly different. You become a worshipper in a private cathedral.
Attending the annual “Evening Among the Roses” event in June.
Music in the Chinese Garden on Wednesday afternoons.
Buying the architect (or dad) in your life a Frank Lloyd Wright printed tie in the gift shop.
Lupe, Human Resources
I love our plant sales! Plant collectors and gardeners alike thrill to the hunt of a rare treasure or just a gorgeous garden plant. It is such a time of happiness and excitement, not only for our guests, but also for staff and volunteers. We love to share our knowledge and love (some would say obsession) for our plants.
I love to bird watch in the Desert Garden.
There’s so much great art in the Huntington Art Gallery that it’s easy to overlook the beautiful architecture. One of my favorite things to do is to walk through the gallery and think about it being a home of the Huntingtons. The marble floors, grand staircase, and incredible views are a delight, but I love looking at the details, like heating vents, door handles, and windows.
Brandi, Volunteer Services
Similar, but different, are the Sulcorebutia cacti from the Andes of South America. Their globular bodies produce a profusion of flowers in brilliant betalain colors: yellow, orange, red, pink, or magenta (like beets). These can cover the plant bodies or ornament them with crowns of flowers in May, harbingers of summer.
My favorite thing is to sit on the bench under the wisteria and look through the blooms at the Japanese Garden bridge.
For me, a great seasonal reminder is the low-hanging harvest moon in late October, just above the canopy line of the trees in our parking lot. I always notice it when I am heading back to my car at dusk, and it reminds me that I just finished another day, month, or year in a truly unique workplace.
My favorite spot is at the top of the stairs in the Huntington Art Gallery, where you can look out over the North Vista and see the San Gabriel Mountains. Then if you turn around and walk a few feet, you’ll come to a window on the other side of the building, from which you can see the San Gabriel Valley. On that short walk from one window to the other, you can also see great British portraits, a French bronze sculpture of Diana, and Wedgwood ceramics.
Whenever I need a fresh idea, I check out the historic light bulb display in the "Beautiful Science" exhibition in Dibner Hall. The bulbs range from the 1890s to the 1960s and show science's ability to improve our daily life through this remarkable invention.
Audubon's Birds of America never ceases to astonish me. I think it's amazing that he drew birds exactly at life-size scale, and I love how he had to manipulate very large birds, like the flamingo, to actually fit on the page. Very clever!
I still cannot get over the technical beauty of the Virgin and Child by Rogier van der Weyden. Every time I see it I marvel at what a treasure it is, the radiance of the adoring mom and the curious nature of the baby, as he tinkers with the clasp of the Bible. I cannot believe it was painted 700 years ago.
I have a special place in my heart for the cow-shaped cream jug in the 18th-century British silver collection, displayed on the second floor of the Huntington Art Gallery. I love the whimsical design, the exquisite craftsmanship, and the image it conjures of genteel ladies serving tea. It also reminds me of one of the funniest comic novels in all of British literature: P. G. Wodehouse's The Code of the Woosters, in which a purloined cow creamer plays a central role. It always makes me smile.
Of all the objects in the European Art Gallery, I am most drawn to the portrait of the Duchess of Devonshire in the Thornton Portrait Gallery by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Lots of people have a hard time connecting to portraits of people they don't know, but there's something about the way her classical costume billows as she seems to glide forward that makes her seem so present and alive. I find myself studying every part of it, always finding something new in the details.
Brandi, Volunteer Services
I love visiting the Frank Lloyd Wright dining room table and chairs in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries and imagining friends sitting around the square table, perfectly proportioned for a lively conversation over a lovely meal.
There is a neo-Gothic torchère installed in one of the second-floor rooms of the Huntington Art Gallery made from Coade stone, a type of manufactured stone, around 1809. It is shaped like a column from a Gothic cathedral, but the best part is the tiny faces that decorate it. Each has a different expression, giving what could be a serious piece of decorative art a charming touch of whimsy.
Looking closely at the illuminations and handwriting in the Library's "Remarkable Works, Remarkable Times" exhibition, I picture each page as a blank piece of parchment or paper. I then imagine the individual strokes done by someone in the past to shape each letter and create each decoration.
Every time I visit the Huntington Art Gallery, I stop by the marble bust of Madame de Vermenoux by Jean-Antoine Houdon. I like to examine it from every angle to study the piled-high hair of the 18th-century sitter. Stone is transformed alchemically into soft folds of fabric and delicate lace. The lace and crisp folds of her wrap are so expertly sculpted and so perfectly rendered that I half-expect her to come to life!
Brandi, Volunteer Services
The Houdon Diana upstairs in the Huntington Art Gallery is so dramatic, sleek, and beautiful, and I cannot figure out how it balances on just the ball of one foot, given that it weighs nearly 800 pounds! It's a truly beautiful work of art.
Nicholas, Visitor Services
My favorite attraction at The Huntington is the chocolate tree in The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory