Carpets were rolled up and chandeliers taken down. Now, the cork and marble floors that had been concealed for 40 years under carpet have been refinished and three chandeliers have been restored “to evoke the space as it looked when it opened in 1920,” and the Huntington’s Main Hall, which has been closed since June of 2012, is to reopen on Saturday, November 9th.
The Hall, initially a reading room for scholars, will now house a permanent exhibit featuring “12 key works in vignettes.” These works include the Gutenberg Bible, the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare’s First Folio, Audubon’s Birds of America, and Henry David Thoreau’s manuscript of Walden.
Each vignette will incorporate other rare works to reflect the time and place, prompting visitors to make connections and consider a wider context. The goal is to provide unexpected juxtapositions and new insights into the collections, and into history itself.
For example, a First Folio edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays, published in 1623, will be displayed alongside books that inspired him, works by his contemporaries, and rare items that reflect the world he lived in—from the British colonization of the New World to the writings of Galileo. (Huntington.org)
Other vignettes have a letter from President Lincoln to General David Hunter, dated 1863, which will sit alongside photographs of the Civil War. There’s a signed statement from Frederick Douglas that implores the president to “Unchain that black hand!” and another section will have “materials related to suffragist Susan B. Anthony, including a remarkable record of her court trial for voting illegally in 1872.” A letter to Elizabeth Cady Stanton describes Anthony’s vote: “Well I have been & gone & done it!”
“Scholars around the world are familiar with the depth and significance of the primary source materials at The Huntington, and now, with this thoughtful reimagining of the core Library exhibition, the public will be better able to explore one of our most crucial roles here—as a research center with glorious special collections,” Huntington president Steven Koblik said.
“We intend to highlight a selection of works from our collection of some 9 million items, each with countless stories to tell, in a concise display that won’t overwhelm, but rather delight and profoundly inspire people again and again. We’re fortunate to be faced with such an exciting challenge—one that occurs maybe only once in a generation,” says David Zeidberg, Avery Director of the Library. (Huntington.org)
Remarkable Works, Remark Times: Highlights from the Huntington Library
Reopening of the Huntington Main Hall
Saturday, Nov. 9th
Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino
Saturday hours: 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Admission on weekends: adults, $20; seniors, $15; students, $10; youth, $6; under 5, free
Huntington.org or call 626.405.2100