Los Angeles, a metropolis that has so much to offer in all kinds of areas, shines in the field of the arts. Be it film, music, literary arts, fine arts, culinary arts – you name it!
The first weekend of 2016 we explored two famous museums in Pasadena in LA County: The Norton Simon Museum and the Huntington Library (which is technically in the neighboring city of San Marino). While the Norton Simon is solely an art museum with a beautiful sculpture garden, the Huntington Library’s extensive grounds are home to a library and a variety of art galleries, which are sprinkled in among the various botanical gardens.
The Norton Simon Museum of Art
Formerly known as the Pasadena Art Museum it combines the private collection of businessmen and philanthropist Norton Simon with the one of the former Pasadena Art Museum. The museum is famous for its remarkable private art collection. Walking towards the entrance of the museum you are greeted by several of Auguste Rodin’s sculptures. “The Thinker”, one of Rodin’s most famous sculpture has its home right here at the museum. Upon entering the museum, the galleries start out to your left and right but one seems to be magically drawn to the sculpture garden that is in the middle and right opposite the entrance.
Therefore, we started out with walking the sculpture garden which is beautifully set around a large pond and features several sculptures by Henry Moore and other sculptors. Before we started touring the garden though, the garden café beckoned us to take a little rest and just sip on a coffee while taking in the serenity of the site.
Once back inside the museum we took a quick tour of some of the five different galleries. The 14th-17th centuries gallery had some real treasures to offer and we literally soaked up some artworks many of us just know from art history books. If you like Picasso, Braque, Jawlensky, and Klee as well as Sam Francis, Warhol, Lichtenstein and many others, the 20th century gallery will make your heart swell.
Huntington Library – Art Galleries, Botanical Gardens and Home of a Gutenberg Bible
Get ready for a day’s worth of walking! The Huntington Library is gorgeous and getting blisters on your feet is totally worth it! Let’s start out with the spectacular botanical gardens. “More than a dozen principal gardens cover 120 acres of the 207-acre ground.”
We set out to visit our favorite two gardens this first Sunday of 2016: The Japanese and the Chinese Garden. Both of them are so beautifully and genuinely designed, every time we just enjoy sticking around for a while, taking in the peaceful scenery from one of the benches at the Japanese garden, or the Chinese pagoda or the peaceful Zen garden.
As you are walking the gardens you happen upon the various galleries. Here you can educate yourself on European art from the 15th to the early 20th century as well as on American art from the late 17th to the mid-20th century.
We skipped the art-viewing part on our visit this time since high on our to-do-list was seeing the original copy of the famous Gutenberg Bible that is on display in the actual Library. Our visitors from Germany were quite surprised to see a Gutenberg Bible right here in California. And what a beautiful copy it is on top of it! We were stunned to see this book from the year 1450 in such perfect condition. The illuminations were so rich in color as having just come of the printing press. Besides the Gutenberg Bible one can admire numerous other historically important documents and books on display.
After having visited the Library and having walked through the Rose Garden we called it a day and pledged to come visit the desert garden another time.
Should you plan on visiting the Huntington Library, come with a lot of time! You might even want to start out your visit with an English Tea experience at the Rose Garden Tea Room. It’s an event that one needs to make a reservation for ahead of time but I heard it’s totally worth it.
Check out some of SoCal’s great museums for FREE on January 30, 2016. (Unfortunately neither the Norton Simon nor the Huntington Library has free admission on the day)
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