We all need our batteries recharged to fuel creativity and provide inspiration. Springtime in Southern California is enthralling and one of the best places to spend a relaxing afternoon in the company of art, history and nature is at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
One can take an idyllic stroll though their various museums with art from a wide range periods from across the world, and marvel at their rich collection of gardens. These include a Desert Garden, Australian Garden, Herb Garden, Japanese Garden, Chinese Garden and Rose Garden - to name just a few.
While at The Huntington, one feels completely isolated from the bustling world, since it is impossible to see the Los Angeles metropolis from any vantage point within the gardens. With the mountains showing faintly in the background, one somehow has the feeling of being in Tuscany.
When my wife and I visited The Huntington recently, on a weekday afternoon, everyone seemed to have the same excellent idea and were showing off their new spring outfits complete with big straw-hats and smart-phone cameras at the ready to capture their sunny memories.
In the Chinese Garden, with its pagodas, bridges and courtyards we stopped for a lunch of "Chicken Lo Mein," accompanied by lemonade, enjoying the view of the lake, alive with Carpe swimming among the straws. Children were eating ice cream, playing and asking parents and grandparents all sort of questions about the nature surrounding them. Children and adults alike seemed completely absorbed by this magical fairytale world.
The Huntington Library has a world-class collection of books, ranging from the Gutenberg Bible and William Shakespeare's collected plays to newspapers. 375,000 items all in all. It makes one's head spin, walking though the literary history from the fourteen hundreds through to the turn of the last century. Artifacts remind us of how the progression of technological progress, such as printing with individual type, made religious revolutions possible. Continuing on with the first postal service, followed by telegraph and phones that finally made global communication and trade possible.
The Huntington Art Collection, includes Thomas Gainsborough's "The Blue Boy" and Thomas Lawrence's "Pinkie," Greene & Greene Arts & Craft furniture, William Turner's Beaumaris, Isle of Anglesey, Edward Hopper's The Long Leg and Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes. When we last visited, there were three special exhibits, one of which was "Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes." Any art aficionado will be inspired to come back again and again.
The story of Collis P. Huntington is, in itself, an inspirational story. As a businessman he built a financial empire that included railroad companies, utilities, and real estate holdings in Southern California. Together with Leland Stanford, among others, he made the cross continental railroad possible, connecting the East with the Wild, Wild West. That railroad would have been the equivalent of the Internet of the late 1880s.
If your creativity is running on vapors or you simply need a new perspective on everyday life, an excellent antidote for the whole family would be spending some time together at the amazing libraries, museums and gardens known as The Huntington.