Friday, December 19, 2008

Magical

The Huntington closes at 4:30 p.m., so usually you leave during daylight. But when John and I took the curator tour of the new exhibit, Beautiful Science, at the Dibner Hall of the History of Science at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (mouthful! breathe!) we got to stay late. The Huntington is magical anytime, but especially after dark.

Collis P. Huntington was tireless at making things and money. He's also said to have been a jerk. When Collis died he left his railroad fortune to his nephew. Henry soon began amassing a collection of irreplaceable books and art. Then he married Arabella Huntington, his uncle's widow, who was quite the collector herself.

Arabella had a son and she left him well off. But the Huntingtons left the bulk of their fortune to the rest of us. We inherited four art galleries, fourteen gardens, a place of world-reknowned scholarly study and - well, this part is mine - a collection of early Shakespeare editions including one of the few extant First Folios. The first time I saw it I cried.

When I studied one summer at the British/American Drama Academy at Oxford, some of my teachers were members of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Our teachers asked the Bodleian Library to show us their First Folio and the library officials refused. Not even a peek. Snobs.

The Folio at the Huntington is under special glass so even though it's mine I can't touch it. But I can see it. So can you.

This is what Henry and Arabella did for us. It's what the current caretakers of the Huntington do for us every day. And the legacy grows.

Magical.

13 comments:

Cafe Observer said...

Magical & Under appreciated.

Bernie K. said...

Nice photo—two moons for the price of one.

Knoxville Girl said...

ahh, Bernie beat me to it.
but it is magical, hope I get out there to see it some day.

Vanda said...

Nice Buns.

HearkenCreative said...

And no bags. Bummer...I was hoping to buy one for $.59...

The two moons are free, though. Bernie and Knoxville Girl were quicker than me.

altadenahiker said...

That photo is so dramatic and lush! Apparently the two Huntingtons built collections and improved the Huntington "ranch" with the sole intention of opening it to the public. As an aside, Arabella was going blind due to the belladona drops she used to keep her eyes bright. So Huntington planted the rose garden just so she could enjoy the ranch through scent.

USelaine said...

Makes me want to name something Arabella. Your tribute is beautiful.

Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

Makes me want to be Arabella, just for one night.

Christie said...

Very, very nice. That would be magical to see in person.

Ha, ha, Bernie. Funny.

Petrea, if you ever want different names for stores, we have a friend that has given most of them a nickname. Wal-mart = Sprawl-mart, Home Depot = Home Despot, etc. He's got a million of them!

babooshka said...

I couldn't help but laugh at your snobs comment. Until we change the class system in the UK these simple requests will always be denied. The image is indeed magical and the text so interesting. I believe that bloggers are becoming the real or at least alternative historians.

Petrea said...

Try to put up a pretty picture and you get butt jokes.

Oh and I'm sure they have bags, Loren. Gift shop. You betchya.

Hey, Karin, I like that story. I didn't know about the belladonna. I've read that Henry and Arabella, were very good friends who truly respected each other. That makes for a beautiful marriage.

Babooshka, I hope you know I was sort of kidding. The Bodleian library was so stunning that I could barely walk through it. One of the most amazing places I've ever seen. Mind-boggling.

C.O., do you really think the Hunting is under-appreciated? How so?

Bernie K. said...

Sorry about the crack.

USelaine said...

D' airier the night, the more I like it?