News Release - Huntington's Yearlong Centennial Celebration Launches Today

Sep. 5, 2019

Sets in motion a series of activities, including exhibitions, talks, artist interventions, and interactive website features that invite everyone to participate.

SAN MARINO, Calif. — The Huntington's Centennial Celebration kicks off Sept. 5, 2019, setting in motion a yearlong series of exhibitions, public programs, artist interventions, and more—inviting people with a range of interests to engage with the venerable institution's collections and the connections they offer, and to join an exploration of ideas that will shape the future.

The festivities begin with a special event on Sept. 5 for press and Southern California higher education and cultural leaders. Soon after kickoff, Centennial activities and new initiatives will unfurl, designed to broadly explore the human experience through the interdisciplinary lens of The Huntington’s incomparable collections. Centennial activities confirmed as of Sept. 4 include the major exhibition “Nineteen Nineteen,” which opens on Sept. 21, 2019. The sweeping display will examine The Huntington and its founding through the prism of a single, tumultuous year—1919—bringing together about 275 objects drawn from the institution’s vast collections. There will also be performances, conversations on topics ranging from the mysterious “bad quarto” of Shakespeare’s Hamlet to the history of California, a new giveaway program aimed at providing 100 Southern California college students with free Membership for a year, a lively, interactive Centennial website, and new features in the Mapel Orientation Gallery.

Another highlight is “Beside the Edge of the World,” an exhibition of new works of art and literature opening on Nov. 9 with installations indoors and throughout the gardens, a limited-edition book, and more. The exhibition is the result of a yearlong partnership with Los Angeles arts organization Clockshop. Participating artists are Nina Katchadourian, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, and Rosten Woo, and writers Dana Johnson and Robin Coste Lewis, poet laureate for the city of Los Angeles.

In the spring of 2020, eight acres of new features in The Huntington’s Chinese Garden will open to the public.

More Centennial news will be announced at the launch event on Sept. 5.

“This institution’s reach is already wide,” said Huntington President Karen R. Lawrence. “Each year, hundreds of researchers mine and interpret our collections, thousands engage with us over social media, and hundreds of thousands of visitors come to wander the galleries and gardens, take classes, attend concerts or lectures, or celebrate special occasions. We are seizing this moment to amplify our invitation to new audiences in our Southern California communities and beyond, as well as to welcome artists, writers, and scholars to explore new synergies across the library, art, and botanical collections.”

The President’s Series, a new initiative presenting performances, conversations, and other events celebrating the humanities, will debut with a conversation on Nov. 4 with Susan Orlean, author of The Library Book, and Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer. Why it Matters, another new distinguished speaker/artist series rolling out as part of the Centennial, will debut on Feb. 6 with a conversation between Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, and Huntington President Karen R. Lawrence.

The Huntington’s education programs—which engage some 15,000 school children and their teachers each year—has ramped up activities with Southern California schools by adding a special Centennial-themed student tour and teacher summit to its list of programs.

The Huntington Then and Now
It was in August 1919 that railroad and real estate businessman Henry Edwards Huntington (1850–1927) and his wife Arabella (1850–1924) signed the trust document that established The Huntington as a collections-based research and educational institution for the public’s benefit. Twelve miles from downtown Los Angeles, their Gilded Age estate—one of the first cultural centers in Southern California—opened to the public in 1928. Since that time, the collections have grown exponentially, the institution has become a premier research center and leader in the promotion and preservation of the humanities, and its galleries and botanical gardens have become beloved destinations to some 750,000 visitors each year.

In the last two decades alone, The Huntington has doubled its art gallery space to 110,000 square feet. It has also added a Ming dynasty-style Chinese Garden; the sprawling Brody Botanical Center; the 90,000-square-foot Munger Research Center; a gallery focused on the history of science; and a 6.5-acre education and visitor center featuring a new restaurant, one of the most popular museum gift shops in Southern California, the 400-seat Rothenberg Hall, classrooms, and the Mapel Orientation Gallery.

The Huntington also has added dramatically to its collections since its founding, especially in the areas of American art, the history of science and technology, and the history of California and the West. The collections include extensive historical and literary archives currently numbering more than 11 million items, as well as signature holdings of European and American art, and more than 120 acres of widely varied botanical collections. “In its first 100 years, The Huntington has established itself as a vital cultural treasure,” Lawrence said. “We look forward to envisioning what the next 100 years will bring.”

The Huntington’s Centennial Celebration is made possible by the generous support of Avery and Andrew Barth, Terri and Jerry Kohl, and Lisa and Tim Sloan.

Public Events and Activities Highlights Confirmed as of Sept. 4, 2019



Nineteen Nineteen
Sep. 21, 2019–Jan. 20, 2020
MaryLou and George Boone Gallery
A major exhibition that examines The Huntington and its founding through the prism of a single, tumultuous year, “Nineteen Nineteen” brings together some 275 objects drawn from the institution’s library and art collections. In 1919, as Henry and Arabella Huntington signed the trust document that would transform their property into a public institution, the United States roiled in the aftermath of World War I. Organized around themes defined by the verbs “Fight,” “Return,” “Map,” “Move,” and “Build,” the exhibition showcases items that embody an era in flux. Rare books, posters, letters, photographs, diaries, paintings, sculpture, and ephemera will be on view, many for the first time. Highlights include representative items from 1919, such as a 37-foot map of a Pacific Electric (Red Car) route in Los Angeles, German Revolution posters, and suffragist pamphlets, alongside important works acquired by Huntington in the lead-up to that year, including the original manuscript of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, the journal of Aaron Burr, and the memoirs of Gen. William T. Sherman.

What Now: Collecting for the Library in the 21st Century
Part 1: Oct. 19, 2019–Feb. 17, 2020
Part 2: May 2–Aug. 24, 2020
Library, West Hall
"Collecting for the Library in the 21st Century" is an exhibition in two parts that illuminates The Huntington's role in documenting the human experience in support of education and scholarly research. The more than 100 acquisitions featured represent recent trends in developing the Library's collection strengths, ranging from American and British history to medieval manuscripts, from Hispanic history and culture to the history of medicine. All materials on view were acquired since the year 2000. This is the first time that these objects will be on public display at The Huntington.

Beside the Edge of the World
Nov. 9, 2019–Feb. 24, 2020
Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing
Showcasing new work by artists selected for a yearlong collaboration with Los Angeles arts organization Clockshop, this exhibition marks the fourth year of The Huntington's /five initiative. Artists invited to participate in this year's project are Nina Katchadourian, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, and Rosten Woo, and writers Dana Johnson and Robin Coste Lewis, poet laureate for the city of Los Angeles. Each participant will create work based on research in The Huntington's collections investigating ideas of perfection and utopia using Thomas More's satirical work Utopia (1516) as a foundational text and starting point. The selected artists will collaborate with Huntington curators during their yearlong residencies to engage with archival materials of their choosing.

The Hilton Als Series: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Jan. 25–May 11, 2020
Huntington Art Gallery
Recent portrait-like paintings by contemporary British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye are displayed adjacent to the historic Thornton Portrait Gallery at The Huntington in an exhibition curated by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Hilton Als, staff writer and theater critic for The New Yorker magazine, and associate professor of writing at Columbia University. The installation of six of Yiadom-Boakye’s studies of fictional characters create a dialogue with The Huntington’s collection of highly formal 18th-century British portraits. Drawn from the world of found images and imagination, Yiadom-Boakye's figures seem familiar but also mysterious. She typically finishes each painting in a single day, infusing the works with freshness and spontaneity, as if they were painted from life. The exhibition is the second in a trilogy at The Huntington that originated at the Yale Center for British Art. The first focused on the work of Celia Paul, and the final installment in 2021 will highlight the work of Los Angeles-based artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby. “The Hilton Als Series: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye” is organized by the Yale Center for British Art where it will be on view from Sept. 12 through Dec. 15, 2019.

March 14–June 22, 2020
Installations at five gallery entrances: Mapel Orientation Gallery, Library Main Hall, Dibner Hall of the History of Science, Huntington Art Gallery, and Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art
How do five venerable bonsai trees relate in age and historical significance to important works in The Huntington’s library and art collections? With an interdisciplinary approach that only The Huntington could offer, “Lifelines/Timelines” explores the march of time by comparing the age of selected California juniper bonsai alongside benchmarks in the institution’s 100-year history, and with significant pieces on view in the library and art galleries. Lines in the grain of natural deadwood sections of these bonsai can be used to calculate the tree’s age, much like the rings in a cross-section. Which line of a tree’s growth corresponds to the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio in 1623? How does its age relate to the creation of Thomas Gainsborough’s masterpiece, The Blue Boy, painted ca. 1770? Each of the exhibition’s five bonsai installations, located at gallery entrances, will include an illustrated timeline, interactive elements geared toward children, and other interpretive materials, offering an entirely new perspective on The Huntington’s holdings.

A Garden of Words: The Calligraphy of Liu Fang Yuan
Chinese Garden, Studio for Lodging the Mind
May 30, 2020–Jan. 4, 2021
Timed to coincide with the grand opening of the final phase of its Chinese Garden, The Huntington will present a major exhibition of contemporary Chinese calligraphy as the inaugural installation in the garden’s new art gallery, the Studio for Lodging the Mind. The exhibition, designed to illuminate the art form and foster deeper appreciation of its expressive qualities, will be presented in two 16-week rotations of 20 works each. The work of 21 contemporary ink artists will be featured, including Qianshen Bai, Michael Cherney, Fu Shen, Lo Ch’ing, Lui Tai, Tang Qingnian, Wang Mansheng, Wan-go Weng, and Terry Yuan. The works on view comprise the original calligraphic scrolls that served as the models for inscriptions throughout the garden. To complement the show, a series of calligraphy demonstrations by featured artists will be offered during the run of the exhibition inside an adjacent structure known as the Flowery Brush Library.

Lectures and Conferences

In America, Nineteen Nineteen
Oct. 18–19, 2019, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Rothenberg Hall
Complementing The Huntington's major fall exhibition, "Nineteen Nineteen," this conference focuses on the wide range of social, cultural, and political events that provided a national context for Henry and Arabella Huntington's act of philanthropy in founding the institution comprising a library, art collections and botanical gardens in 1919. Despite the ending of the Great War, 1919 is an infamous year in American history: It included the nation’s first Red Scare, a period rife with hysteria and fear of communism; the Red Summer of racial violence; a third wave of the flu pandemic; labor protests; and riots. It was also a year in which the U.S. established itself as an economic superpower, a year of cultural ferment (jazz, modernism, the formation of the United Artists Corp.), and a year identified with the emerging assertion of human and civil rights.

The Founder and the Future: Becoming Henry Huntington
The John Randolph Haynes Foundation Lecture in the History and Culture of Los Angeles
Wed., Oct. 23, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Rothenberg Hall
William Deverell, director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, explores the life of Henry E. Huntington (1850-1927) against the backdrop of American history. As a boy, Huntington diligently copied out proverbs by which to structure his life and his moral universe. What can these determinations tell us, as we follow him and them through time, about ambition, success, legacies, as well as roads not taken, or journeys left incomplete? How did Huntington make his way through life and by what lodestars? In this year of The Huntington’s Centennial, how do we measure the man and the institution that bears his name? Free; reservations required.

President’s Series: Susan Orlean and Viet Thanh Nguyen
Mon., Nov. 4, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Rothenberg Hall
A new series of performances, conversations, and other events with fresh perspectives debuts with a conversation between Susan Orlean, author of The Library Book, and Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer, moderated by William Deverell, director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. They will discuss how their books evoke a sense of place—they both use Southern California as a backdrop. Free; reservations required.

Hamlet and Other Ghost Stories
The Ridge Lecture in Literature
Wed., Nov. 13, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Rothenberg Hall
Henry Huntington acquired one of the rarest books in the history of English literature, a book that changed how we understand Shakespeare's greatest play. This so-called “bad quarto” of Hamlet was discovered 200 years after Shakespeare’s death, in a closet of the manor house of a country gentleman in Suffolk, England. Zachary Lesser, professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses how this book’s discovery in 1823 transformed our ideas about Hamlet, how it made its way to The Huntington, and what can we learn from the history of this remarkable book about the work of libraries in the 21st century. Free; reservations required.

President’s Series: Shakespeare’s Bad Quarto On Stage
Thurs., Nov. 14, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Rothenberg Hall
Actors from the Independent Shakespeare Co. of Los Angeles read and compare portions of the so-called “bad quarto” of Hamlet with the version audiences are familiar with, and Zachary Lesser, professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, joins them on stage to provide commentary. Free; reservations required.

Benjamin Franklin: The Often Truthful, Always Radical, Never Completed American Founder
The Allan Nevins Lecture in American History
Wed., Dec. 11, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Rothenberg Hall
Joyce Chaplin, James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History at Harvard University, revisits The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, one of Henry Huntington’s most prized manuscript acquisitions and the story of a life that is tantalizingly open-ended because it is unfinished. His life documents almost an entire century, an era of significant, often radical upheavals. But the text of Franklin’s autobiography ends with the words “never put into Execution,” and the associated outline of events he meant to write about ends with “&c.” Both are open invitations to read and reread the never-ending life of the celebrated Founding Father. Either of the inconclusive conclusions is more dramatic than “The End,” so much more so that one wonders whether he did it on purpose? Free; reservations required.

Why It Matters: Carla Hayden and Karen R. Lawrence
Thurs., Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m.
For the debut of the new Why It Matters series, Huntington President Karen R. Lawrence speaks with Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress (the first woman and the first African American to hold the post), about the importance of archives. Free; reservations required.

Drew Gilpin Faust Gives Founder’s Day Lecture
Weds., Feb. 26, 3 and 7:30 p.m.
Former president of Harvard and Civil War scholar Drew Gilpin Faust explores the ways The Huntington collections have served as a critical resource for our understanding of the Civil War. Although the collection started with Henry Huntington, it has expanded since the library's founding, bringing new insights about the war's causes, motivations, and consequences. Free; reservations required.

Why It Matters: Drew Gilpin Faust and Karen R. Lawrence
Thurs., Feb. 27, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
Huntington President Karen R. Lawrence speaks with Drew Gilpin Faust, former president of Harvard and a Civil War scholar, about the importance of the humanities. Free; reservations required.

Other events, initiatives, and offerings

Centennial Family Day
Nov. 16, 2019, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Visitors can join the Centennial fun with a day of family-friendly art making, performances, and concerts celebrating The Huntington at 100—looking back at its history as well as looking forward to the future. General admission. No reservations required.

Huntington Centennial Float in the 2020 Rose Parade®
Jan. 1, 2020
For the first time in 50 years, The Huntington will join Pasadena’s world-famous Rose Parade® with a spectacular float that will represent The Huntington’s trifecta of library, art, and botanical collections as the institution looks forward to the next 100 years.

Chinese Garden Expansion Grand Opening
May 2020
As one of the keystone events in its yearlong Centennial Celebration, The Huntington will host the grand opening in May 2020 of the final phase of the Chinese Garden, Liu Fang Yuan 流芳園, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance. The expansion increases the garden’s footprint from the initial 3.5 acres to its long-planned 12 acres, making it one of the largest classical-style Chinese gardens in the world. Liu Fang Yuan opened in 2008 with eight tile-roofed pavilions situated around a one-acre lake. In 2014, two new pavilions and a rock grotto were added. For this final phase, new elements include an exhibition complex at the north end of the garden, comprising a traditional scholar’s studio and an art gallery for changing displays. The inaugural exhibition in the new gallery, “A Garden of Words: The Calligraphy of Liu Fang Yuan,” is scheduled to open May 30. Other new features include a larger café with outdoor seating; a hillside pavilion offering a view of the Mt. Wilson Observatory in the distance; a courtyard complex to showcase penjing (miniature landscapes similar to Japanese bonsai); and an event space for larger gatherings.

Centennial Website:
Launches Sept. 5, 2019
A new Centennial portal on The Huntington’s website goes live on Sept. 5. Designed to offer ways of participating in the celebration from beyond The Huntington’s grounds, the portal will be updated regularly throughout the yearlong celebration and will serve as the primary public resource for all Centennial activities. It will include a place to submit visitor memories; a historic timeline; a list of 100 favorite things to do at The Huntington as recommended by members of the staff; and a new video series.

Centennial Timeline Installation
Sept. 5, 2019 – Ongoing
Mapel Orientation Gallery
To provide visitors with a bold graphic representation of The Huntington’s fascinating historic arc, a wall of the Mapel Orientation Gallery will display a timeline that traces milestones in the institution’s history from 1919 to the present. The opposite wall in the room will feature a large birthday card to which visitors can add their sentiments about The Huntington turning 100, along with their ideas for its future. Look for other features, including a new self-guided “Centennial Takeaway Tour.”

Centennial College Membership Program
As part of its commitment to welcoming the regional college student community during its Centennial Celebration, The Huntington will offer Sustaining Level Memberships (valued at $159 each) free to the first 100 Los Angeles County college students who apply. Students may enter by sending an email to [email protected] on or after Sept. 6, 2019. The recipients will redeem their Memberships on site, with proof of college ID and current enrollment.

Huntington’s 100th (the Centennial Rose)
A special variety of rose, 'Huntington's 100th’, provides a quintessential touch to The Huntington’s Centennial. The pastel yellow and orchid pink floribunda was hybridized by Tom Carruth, The Huntington's E. L. and Ruth B. Shannon Curator of the Rose Collections, and is on display in the historic Rose Garden, as well as in a dedicated garden just north of the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art. The hybrid’s abundant blooms emit an intense fragrance of lemon blossom with a hint of baby powder.

Commemorative Gifts in the Huntington Store
An array of gifts inspired by the Huntington’s Centennial include a distinctive logo T-shirt, tote bag, enamel pin, mug, water bottle, and baseball hat, plus a range of merchandise based on the ‘Huntington’s 100th’ rose. Available exclusively at the Huntington Store and at

NOTE TO EDITORS: Above are highlights of Centennial activities that are confirmed as of Sept. 4, 2019. More information will follow about additional programs and events, including the grand opening of eight additional acres of the Chinese Garden; the commissioning of artists to create site-specific works for the gardens; and a number of other activities yet to be announced.

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Thea M. Page, 626-405-2260, [email protected] 
Lisa Blackburn, 626-405-2140, [email protected]

The Huntington's Centennial Celebration
(September 2019–September 2020)
For the past 100 years, The Huntington has examined the human experience through the lens of its incomparable library, art, and botanical collections. Marking its Centennial with a yearlong series of exhibitions and events, The Huntington celebrates the impact of its collections and the connections they offer, while exploring the interdisciplinary ideas that will shape the next 100 years. 
Follow the Centennial on social media - #100atTheH

About The Huntington
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public. More information about The Huntington can be found online at

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The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, CA, 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. It is open to the public Wednesday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. Information: 626-405-2100 or

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