All Together Now
MAR/APR 2015 - Standing at the top of the Munger Research Center steps, looking down at the new Education and Visitor Center, people are quick to tell me, “Wow! You don’t mess around!” And sure enough, as we reach the project’s completion, it does seem in some ways as though it happened overnight. It feels as though my time at The Huntington has gone by just as quickly. A large part of what makes time seem to accelerate has to do with the experience itself—the level of intensity, the amount of work we accomplished, the sheer pace of it all, and the phenomenally good nature of the workplace in which we find ourselves. You know how it goes: bad times seem to take forever to get through while the good times race by.
And these were spectacularly good times. I’ve been lucky. I’ve been surrounded by an amazingly talented, hardworking, and good-humored staff and a smart and committed pool of volunteers. This is my “thank you” to each and every one of them. Some of our staff members and volunteers, from gardeners to curators to custodians to docents, have been with us for three and four decades. That’s simply unheard of today. Most institutions experience a fairly systematic turnover, with people moving on in search of new opportunities after a few years. But The Huntington is quite different in that respect. It’s sticky. We tend to stay. We talk about the history of the institution and how it came to be as if it were our own family story. We call the founder “Mr. Huntington.” I hear security guards talking with pride about when this object or that object came into the collection. I am in constant conversation with a variety of staff and docents about what’s best for the institution, what kinds of things are in sync with our mission and what things aren’t, and what Mr. Huntington would have wanted.
People feel tremendous attachment to, and take great pride in, this remarkable place. Without such a level of enthusiasm, we never could have accomplished the wonderful things we did: the building of the Chinese Garden; the refurbishment of the Huntington mansion; the quick but daunting clean-up after the 2011 windstorm; the acquisition of 67,000 volumes on the history of science and the creation of the “Beautiful Science” gallery immediately thereafter; the refurbishment of the Japanese Garden; the expansion of the American art galleries. And these are just a few of the things we’ve accomplished together. Every single one of these projects signaled a major undertaking of significant proportions. Each was exciting and transformative. And each was wildly disruptive as well. To the staff and volunteers of The Huntington, thank you for forging on. You’ve helped shape this institution and its future in ways I’m not sure any one of us could have imagined. I couldn’t feel more pleased or satisfied, and I hope you do, too. I am certain Mr. Huntington would be delighted and very, very proud.
Steve Koblik, President