2020 Public Programs Highlights
Exhibitions, Installations, Openings
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 across The Huntington’s 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 are 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
“What Now” 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 have been 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
New works of art and literature debut in “Beside the Edge of the World,” one of the programs marking The Huntington’s Centennial. Works by artists Nina Katchadourian, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, and Rosten Woo, and writers Dana Johnson and Robin Coste Lewis, give visitors the opportunity to experience video works, poetry, and more in a gallery setting, as well as an audio tour and a sculpture installation in the gardens. “Beside the Edge of the World” uses a The Huntington collection item—Thomas More’s satirical work Utopia (1516)—as a thematic point of departure. The Los Angeles arts organization Clockshop, in partnership with The Huntington, invited the three artists and two writers to consider More’s work and its map depicting the fictional “Isle of Utopia.” The cohort spent a year delving into the institution’s library, art, and botanical collections to create works that make up the exhibition as a part of The Huntington’s /five initiative.
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 five 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 is on view through Dec. 15, 2019.
March 14–June 15, 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 Museum? 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.
“Red Earth” by Lita Albuquerque
March 21 – July 6, 2020
Bamboo Grove of the Japanese Garden
As part of its Centennial Celebration, The Huntington commissioned a temporary art installation by Los Angeles-based artist Lita Albuquerque. Installed near the southern entrance to the Japanese Garden, Albuquerque's “Red Earth” features an approximately six-by-four-foot boulder coated with bright red pigment and surrounded by bamboo stalks affixed with copper-colored bands. The work contrasts dramatically with the cool greens of the shady bamboo grove and is intended to mark its specific location in time and space. “Red Earth” incorporates color and light to convey motion and stillness “because only through stillness can we discover the motion of the cosmos,” says Albuquerque.
Chinese Garden Expansion Grand Opening
May 30, 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.
A Garden of Words: The Calligraphy of Liu Fang Yuan
May 30, 2020–Jan. 4, 2021
Chinese Garden, Studio for Lodging the Mind
Timed to coincide with the grand opening of the final phase of its Chinese Garden, The Huntington presents an 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, is on view in two 16-week rotations of 20 works each. The work of 21 contemporary ink artists is 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 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.
Made in LA 2020
June 7–Aug. 30, 2020
MaryLou and George Boone Gallery
and Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, north galleries
The Hammer Museum’s acclaimed biennial takes place at both the Hammer and The Huntington in 2020, providing visitors across the region with an opportunity to experience the singular exhibition of contemporary art in Los Angeles. “Made in LA 2020” debuts new installations, videos, films, sculpture, performances, and paintings from Los Angeles–based artists, many commissioned specifically for the exhibition. “Made in LA 2020” is co-curated by Tunisian-French writer and curator Myriam Ben Salah and Los Angeles–based curator Lauren Mackler. The Hammer’s Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi is assistant curator for performance. Bank of America is the presenting sponsor for the exhibition.
One Hundred Years of MacArthur Park: Young Artists Consider a Los Angeles Neighborhood
June 20–Sept. 7, 2020
Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art
After first visiting the city in the 1890s, Henry E. Huntington became arguably one of the most important urban planners Los Angeles has ever had. His wealth and business acumen led him to set into motion the development of Southern California, a region he loved. The growth of the city contributed to the emergence of new, complex neighborhoods that, while rich in history, are today in transition, with yet-to-be-determined futures. Once a naturally occurring lake and wetland that was used as a city dump, the area now known as MacArthur Park is one of those neighborhoods. Today the MacArthur Park area is one of the most densely populated in the city, with most residents young and Latinx. A part of The Huntington’s Centennial Celebration, “One Hundred Years of MacArthur Park” features more than 25 new works made by young artists affiliated with Art Division, a nonprofit organization located near the park that is dedicated to training and supporting local youth who are committed to studying the visual arts. Seventeen artists created paintings, photographs, drawings, and works of mixed media relating to the history and evolution of the park.
“Colorscapes” by Luftwerk
June 20–Sept. 28, 2020
As part of its Centennial Celebration, The Huntington commissioned a temporary art installation by Chicago-based Luftwerk, the artistic collaboration of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero. “Colorscapes” brings to life Abraham Gottlob Werner’s seminal 1814 book, Nomenclature of Colours, famously used by Charles Darwin to describe the colors of his findings during voyages on the H.M.S. Beagle. The Huntington owns a first edition of the book. Visitors will likely first experience “Colorscapes” via a signage system that connects specific plants in the gardens and objects in the galleries with Werner’s colors. The signs, situated in various locations, will lead to a large-scale installation on the open Australian Garden’s lawn, in which the range of colors sampled from across The Huntington will unite in an 80-foot-wide circle of 79 vertical banners, akin to a color wheel. Each banner will be printed in a Werner color and labeled with both its Werner name and the name of a plant in the gardens or an object in the galleries that represents the color.
East Plus West: Chinese Porcelain in Rococo France
Sept. 19, 2020–Jan. 25, 2021
Huntington Art Gallery, second floor
Arabella Huntington was one of the most significant art collectors of her time, and her taste influenced the shape of The Huntington’s core art collection. She had a particular love for works from 18th-century France, and one area of keen interest was that of mounted Chinese porcelain whereby French craftspeople fitted imported Asian vases with elaborate framing elements in gilt-bronze, transforming them into hybrid objects that would aesthetically fit into the then fashionable Rococo interiors. “East Plus West” brings together several French mounted Asian porcelain pieces that Arabella collected, most of which were bequeathed to her son, who then gave them to the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. The works are stunning examples of a type of artwork that often juxtaposes what might seem like improbable elements: Asian porcelain with subtly restrained elegance and French gilt bronze in wildly extravagant curvilinear forms. This is the first time that The Huntington and Legion of Honor pieces will have been displayed together.
100 Great British Drawings
Nov. 14, 2020–Feb. 1, 2021
MaryLou and George Boone Gallery
The Huntington’s collection of British drawings and watercolors is among the largest outside of Britain, with more than 12,000 works representing the great masters of the medium. Drawing is the most spontaneous and intimate of art forms, revealing the thoughts and mood of the artist through the stroke of a pen or touch of a brush dipped in watercolor. It is a practice often particularly associated with British artists, whose engagement with the medium is revealed in this major exhibition of 100 artworks. Tracing the evolution of the practice of drawing in Britain from the 17th through the mid-20th century, “100 Great British Drawings” presents rarely seen treasures from The Huntington’s collection. Works by William Blake, John Constable, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Gainsborough, Samuel Palmer, and J.M.W. Turner are featured, as well as examples by artists associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and early 20th-century modernism. A fully illustrated catalog accompanies the exhibition to reveal for the first time the strength and diversity of The Huntington’s collection, a significant portion of which has never been published before.
Talks, Performances, and Special Events
Highlights for January – March 2020
For the first time in 50 years, The Huntington will join Pasadena’s world-famous Rose Parade® with a float that reflects the theme “Cultivating Curiosity,” capturing the spirit of The Huntington’s Centennial Celebration and highlighting the institution’s rare research materials, inspiring art collections, and unparalleled botanical gardens.
President’s Series: Octavia E. Butler’s Parables: A Music Talk with Toshi Reagon
Jan. 7, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
Join Toshi Reagon, acclaimed composer and lyricist, for an evening related to her operatic adaption of Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction novel Parable of the Sower. Performances by Reagon and guests from diverse disciplines will respond to Butler’s three “Earthseed” novels, which also include Parable of the Talents and the unpublished third work, Parable of the Trickster. These creative engagements highlight the relevance of Butler’s work to the social and political landscape of contemporary Los Angeles. The program will feature Phil Allen, Demeter Appel-Riehle, Shelley De Leon, Tamisha A. Tyler, and Melodie Yashar, and will be emceed by Claudia L. Peña. Presented in association with UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance. Free; reservations required.
“Octavia E. Butler’s Parables: A Music Talk with Toshi Reagon” is the first of three events in the coming months focusing on the continuing influence of Butler, who bequeathed her papers to The Huntington. On March 5, 2020, Damian Duffy and John Jennings, the duo behind the bestselling graphic novel adaptation of Butler's Kindred, will discuss their latest collaboration, an adaptation of Parable of the Sower. And on May 27, a half-day program of facilitated sessions will invite imaginative play and social/political engagement sparked by Butler’s work. The program is hosted by Ruha Benjamin, professor of African American studies at Princeton University, and Claudia Peña, lecturer in law at UCLA. Ticket details TBA.
Chinese New Year Festival
Feb. 1–2, 2020, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Celebrate the Lunar New Year at The Huntington as the Year of the Rat begins. Families can enjoy lively performances by lion dancers, a mask-changing artist, martial arts experts, and musicians. Chinese brush painting and calligraphy will be demonstrated, and hands-on craft activities for kids will add to the fun. The festivities will take place in and around the Chinese Garden and other performance locations. General admission; Members are admitted free.
Why It Matters: Carla Hayden and Karen R. Lawrence
Feb. 6, 2020, 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
Feb. 27, 2020, 3 p.m.
Former president of Harvard University 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 E. 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
Feb. 27, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
Huntington President Karen R. Lawrence speaks with Drew Gilpin Faust, former president of Harvard University and a Civil War scholar, about the importance of the humanities. Free; reservations required.
The Ted and the Black: Hilton Als on Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Painterly Universe
March 17, 2020
Join Hilton Als, New Yorker magazine critic and curator of the current exhibition “The Hilton Als Series: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye” in an epistolary-form talk exploring the artist’s unique subject matter. Free; reservations required.
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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 huntington.org.
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 huntington.org.