The Huntington Library Centennial's Flagship Autobiographical Exhibition "Nineteen Nineteen" Opens Saturday

The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens Celebrates Centennial with a New Name, New Exhibits and More Engagement

Published : Friday, September 20, 2019 | 5:10 AM

Detail from Portrait of Henry E. Huntington on Loggia of San Marino Residence, by George R. Watson, April 1919; printed 1927. Gelatin silver print, 22 x 18 3/4 in. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

A name change, new partnerships and increased public engagement are major elements of the year-long celebration of The Huntington Library’s Centennial.

And new exhibits, too—starting Saturday with the unveiling of the Centennial’s signature exhibition called “Nineteen Nineteen,” a sweeping display that examines The Huntington and its founding through the prism of a single, tumultuous year—1919—bringing together about 275 objects drawn from the institution’s vast collections.

The venerable organization is newly renamed to incorporate a more accurate and inviting image. Its new name is the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens.

To bring more engagement with the public, The Huntington is making a point to be more interactive through the use of technology.

And The Huntington wants to hear from the people who have visited in the past and directs the public to a new feature called  Share Your Memories, an interactive page where visitors can post their reminiscences.

“Visitors and researchers have been enjoying The Huntington in person since it first opened its gates to the public,” said Huntington spokesperson Lisa Blackburn. “But today, technology offers new ways for people to engage with the collections from wherever they are, through online exhibitions, video features, downloadable lectures, audio tours, educational resources, the Verso blog.

“As part of our Centennial outreach, we’ve created a whole array of special web features that not only tell the Centennial story but invite visitors to be part of it,” she said.

People from Pasadena and beyond likely have old photos from childhood visits or memories of special moments with friends or family at The Huntington. Visitors can post their memories and read about the memories of others directly on the website.

In that way, Blackburn said, it’s possible for people to be engaged in what’s happening at the library and the events and exhibits that are ongoing.

The year-long Centennial celebration that calls attention to the Huntington also includes unique exhibitions, talks and artist experiences.

“This institution’s reach is already wide,” said Huntington President Karen R. Lawrence. “Each year, hundreds of researchers mine and interpret our collections, thousands engage with us over social media, and hundreds of thousands of visitors come to wander the galleries and gardens, take classes, attend concerts or lectures, or celebrate special occasions.”

“We are seizing this moment to amplify our invitation to new audiences in our Southern California communities and beyond, as well as to welcome artists, writers, and scholars to explore new synergies across the library, art, and botanical collections.”

Centennial activities include the major exhibition “Nineteen Nineteen,” which opens to the public on Sept. 21, 2019. The display examines The Huntington and its founding through the prism of a single, tumultuous year—1919—bringing together about 275 objects drawn from the institution’s vast collections.

A feature of the new “Nineteen Nineteen” exhibit is the display of the book “The Negro Trailblazers of California,” by Delilah L. Beasley, written in 1919.

“Delilah Beasley self-published the book and was able to capture a significant part of California’s history of interesting trailblazing African Americans at the turn of the century,” said Julia Meltzer, whose group Clockshop is collaborating with The Huntington on an exhibition in November. “Delilah Beasley has been largely forgotten and not written about. I hope people learn about her and the book she wrote.”

Meltzer curates a collaboration with The Huntington called “Beyond the Edge of the World,” an exhibition themed around the concept of Utopia, opening on Nov. 9. The exhibition includes installations indoors and throughout the gardens, a limited-edition book, and more. The exhibition is the result of a yearlong partnership with Clockshop.

Participating artists in that exhibition are Nina Katchadourian, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, and Rosten Woo, and writers Dana Johnson and Robin Coste Lewis, poet laureate for the city of Los Angeles.

There will also be performances, conversations on topics ranging from the mysterious “bad quarto” of Shakespeare’s Hamlet to the history of California, a new giveaway program aimed at providing 100 Southern California college students with free membership for a year, an interactive Centennial website, and new features in the Mapel Orientation Gallery.

In the spring of 2020, eight acres of new features in The Huntington’s Chinese Garden will open to the public.

For more information visit

The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens are located at 1151 Oxford Rd. in San Marino.

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