When Is a Library Not a Library?

 

When it’s the Huntington Library – then it’s a whole lot more.

A group of us from my book club drove up to visit the Huntington on Saturday. I didn’t realize how extensive it was and what all it includes despite the descriptions I had heard about it.

It has over 200 acres and much of those have been turned over to botanical gardens. We wandered through about half of them before we turned our attention to the museums. According to their site it takes over 40 gardeners and 100 volunteers to maintain those gardens. That doesn’t surprise me as I look at all the photos I took of them.

They have two art museums – one devoted to American artists and one to European artists. Gainsborough’s Blue Boy is there, as well as Pinkie by Thomas Lawrence, the young girl portrait often shown by Blue Boy. My favorite traditional piece is in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art – Newport Lighthouse by Albert Bierstadt (see my photo above) – at least for this trip.

Then there is the Library – with its rare manuscripts (including a Gutenberg Bible and an early edition of Canterbury Tales) and documents. I read a little about the man who may have taught Johannes Gutenberg, Laurens Janszoon Coster. Some claim he set moveable type and Gutenberg learned the idea from him. Perhaps, but Gutenberg is the one who made it famous.

There was too much to see in one day. The Huntington will definitely require more visits.