The Huntington is home to 31 galleries of American art, ranging from the early colonial period to the present and representing painting, sculpture, photography, film, decorative arts, architecture, and textiles. In the galleries, visitors will encounter American folk and self-taught art; paintings about the urban and rural American experience; artworks and methods rooted in Indigenous knowledge, informing our presence on the ancestral lands of the Tongva and Kizh Nations; and works that reflect American nation-building and expansion. Consider a powerful marble sculpture of an ancient queen of Palmyra by queer, 19th-century sculptor Harriet Goodhue Hosmer, a hyperdetailed view of an Andean peak by Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church, and a monumental carved redwood screen by California African American modernist Sargent Claude Johnson. The architecture and furniture designs of Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene are highlighted, as are works by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Herter Brothers, and Tiffany and Company. American paintings by John Singleton Copley, Thomas Cole, Edward Hopper, Miki Hayakawa, Mabel Alvarez, Agnes Pelton, Charles White, and Andy Warhol grace the galleries, and even more works on paper, textiles, and photographs are part of the holdings. Every artwork in the collection reveals the idiosyncratic vision of an artist grappling with some facet of the broad American experience. The galleries are also activated by contemporary American artists from Los Angeles and beyond who dialogue with the historical collections and the acres of cultivated gardens and landscapes right outside the doors.
The Huntington’s collection of American art began with Henry and Arabella Huntington’s purchases of American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts to complement their growing library holdings related to American history. In 1979, a gift of 50 paintings from the Virginia Steele Scott Foundation dramatically grew the collection, resulting in a separate building that opened in 1984. The Lois and Robert F. Erburu Gallery, designed by Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects, added significant space to the building in 2009. In 2016, eight new galleries, also designed by Fisher and Partners, provided an expansion to house the Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection of American Folk Art. The Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing provides space for temporary exhibitions, and the Dorothy Collins Brown Wing features works by Charles and Henry Greene, architects of the Arts and Crafts movement.