Carla Hayden and Huntington President Karen R. Lawrence

President's Welcome

Each Day, Brighter than the Last

June 7, 2021 - As we shift out of this seemingly endless pandemic, I can’t help but think of the survival story of Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance crew, who persevered through the toughest of times when their ship became frozen in the Antarctic ice. (A quick aside -- we happen to hold in our collection a book – Aurora Australis -- published onboard one of Shackleton’s earlier voyages – the first book published in Antarctica.)

President Karen Lawrence

In our case, it’s been The Huntington’s tenacious staff leading the charge. Our visitor services staff has checked in – and symptom screened – more than 600,000 visitors and staff; our collections team has maintained their careful stewardship of our library and art objects and the glorious botanical gardens; our security officers and facilities staff have kept the place safe and clean; our Huntington Store staff played a vital role in welcoming and assisting shoppers. Everyone stepped up – whether working on site or at home – and for that, I am extremely grateful. This has been a stressful time weighted with extraordinary loss of life and amazing heroics. As the pandemic still wreaks havoc in other parts of the world, The Huntington will continue to be a place of solace, respite, and reflection for the many thousands of visitors who come. We understood early on that The Huntington would be an important place for so many during the pandemic, and that has been borne out every single day. Members and visitors have let us know how meaningful The Huntington has been to them. One of our regular visitors took the time to send me an email on behalf of his family: “Above all, the interaction with your staff minimized our loneliness. The admissions staff, guards, and restaurant workers helped moderate our isolation and gave us some hope that a healthier, better world would return. The friendly hellos and ‘Welcome to the Huntington’ were all greatly appreciated.” We are grateful for these affirming messages.

As we wait these next couple of weeks for California to loosen mask restrictions and other COVID protocols, we are also planning summer events (think music! movies!) and now offering evening strolls, among other activities. The gardens and galleries are buzzing with visitors who’ve come to enjoy the spring bloom, the restored Blue Boy on view, and the “Made in L.A.” exhibition.

Exciting upcoming exhibitions are being planned and we look forward to making those announcements soon. In the meantime, artisans have been on site this spring hard at work assembling the Japanese Heritage House, the 320-year-old Magistrate’s house from Marugame, Japan, that is being installed in the Japanese Garden. That new structure – an immersive experience for visitors – is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2022.

So much of what we celebrate has to do with the historic and with tradition. As The Huntington evolves, we continue to respect and examine the past while reimagining the future and to showcase our relevance for our wide array of audiences.

Amid all this activity, we are welcoming eight new members to our Board of Governors, all of whom join us July 1. Coming from a diversity of backgrounds and professions, we look forward to their perspective and insights in the months and years ahead.

Resilience – and deep gratitude to our staff, visitors, members, donors, volunteers – dominate the feeling of the moment. A final thought: We profoundly appreciate those visitors who have been vaccinated and we offer a plea to those who haven’t: please get vaccinated to keep yourself and others safe.

Look forward to seeing you at The H!

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