A Statement from President Karen R. Lawrence
March 18, 2021 - Reaffirming our Commitment
Over the past year, communities from New York to the San Gabriel Valley have suffered the rise of deplorable acts of violence, aggression, and hate speech targeting Asians and Asian Americans. Even at The Huntington, recent incidents of verbal aggression have occurred. So, it is an important moment for us to state that The Huntington stands in solidarity with our Asian and Asian-American staff, donors, volunteers, visitors, and community members in condemning racially motivated violence, aggression, and hate speech in all forms. We recognize the innumerable contributions that Asians and Asian Americans have made to our country, our community, and our institution. We reaffirm our commitment to furthering our visitors' understanding of Asian and Asian-American history and culture through our collections, exhibitions, and gardens.
Indeed, The Huntington owes its very existence to the Chinese laborers who built the railroads that underpinned the Huntingtons' fortune and whose descendants were wrongfully prohibited from owning property in cities like San Marino. We owe the existence of our Japanese Garden to the skills of Japanese American carpenters, gardeners, and caretakers who were wrongfully interned during World War II despite their decades of contributions to our region.
The Huntington has a deep commitment to initiatives that foreground Asia and Asian Americans. We have made materials related to Asian-American history a key collecting area in our Library and have mounted exhibitions that celebrate the contributions of Asian Americans like Y. C. Hong, an immigration lawyer and community leader in Los Angeles' Chinatown. We have developed a Chinese Garden—and are redeveloping our Japanese Garden—to foster cross-cultural understanding through physical engagement with culturally specific garden-making practices. We have established the Center for East Asian Garden Studies, the world's only research center dedicated to promoting innovative scholarship on the garden traditions of China, Japan, and Korea. We work with Asian and Asian-American staff, donors, volunteers, scholars, and community members to share knowledge and further appreciation of Asian and Asian-American art, history, and gardens through exhibitions, lectures, and research fellowships. And we have committed to a Strategic Plan on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to celebrate the diversity of backgrounds, traditions, and experiences among the audiences we serve in Southern California and beyond.
Today, we are honored to welcome some 200,000 visitors of Asian descent to our grounds each year. We reaffirm our commitment to them—and to all members of The Huntington community—that our grounds will be free of racial animus. We pledge to continue to provide opportunities for intellectual engagement, sensory stimulation, and aesthetic delight that encourage cross-cultural empathy and understanding.
Karen R. Lawrence, President
Why It Matters: James P. Folsom in Conversation with Karen R. Lawrence
Recorded Dec. 2, 2020 | Watch Now
President's Series: Inspired by Octavia E. Butler - A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: Lynell George in conversation with William Deverell and Karla Nielsen
Recorded Aug. 26, 2020 | Watch Now