News Release - The Huntington's Centennial Celebration Launches on Sept. 5, 2019

Posted on Mon., Aug. 12, 2019
Huntington President Karen R. Lawrence invites colleagues from across Southern California to kick off the Centennial Year with special guests: Roy Choi, Juan Devis, Josh Kun, Victoria J. Orphan, Yuval Sharon, Dexter Story, Melodie Yashar, and more

Event Schedule
9:30 a.m. Check-in
10:30 a.m.–noon Centennial Launch Program
Noon–1 p.m. Reception with champagne and light bites

This is an invitation-only event; space is limited
Press must RSVP to

SAN MARINO, Calif.—The Huntington's Centennial Celebration kicks off on Sept. 5, 2019, with a special event for press and Southern California civic, higher education, and cultural leaders—a number of whose institutions are also celebrating significant anniversaries. Huntington President Karen R. Lawrence will host the celebration, sharing key news announcements and highlighting plans for the centennial year and beyond. The formal program will include a panel discussion with thought leaders on some of the big ideas shaping the future, brief presentations by Huntington leadership from each collection area, and a special musical performance interpreting sheet music from the Harold Bruce Forsythe collection. Public visitors will enjoy music in the gardens by Todd Simon and members of his Angel City All-Star Brass Band from noon to 2 p.m.

The Sept. 5 event will set the stage for a yearlong series of exhibitions, public programs, new initiatives, and more—inviting people with a range of interests to engage with the venerable institution's collections and the connections they offer while exploring the interdisciplinary ideas that will shape the next 100 years. The Centennial Launch's program reflects the interdisciplinary lens of The Huntington's incomparable collections.

Los Angeles Innovators Discuss the Future

Juan Devis, chief creative officer of PBS SoCal, will moderate a discussion around some of the big ideas shaping the future. The panel is composed of four Los Angeles-based thought leaders and innovators in the fields of culinary arts (Roy Choi), performing arts (Yuval Sharon), environmental science (Victoria J. Orphan), and architecture and design (Melodie Yashar).

Roy Choi was born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in Los Angeles. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and later worked at the internationally acclaimed Le Bernardin. In 2010, he was named Best New Chef by Food and Wine. His cookbook/memoir "L.A. Son" was a New York Times bestseller in 2013, and he was included in the 2016 TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World list. In 2017, LocoL received the first-ever L.A. Times Restaurant of the Year award. In 2019, Choi produced and hosted "Broken Bread," a Tastemade/KCET television series that showcases inspiring people who are making a difference in their communities through food. Choi resides in Los Angeles, where he is the co-owner, co-founder, and chef of Kogi BBQ food truck, Chego!, A-Frame, Commissary, POT and LocoL.

Victoria J. Orphan is James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science and Geobiology at Caltech in Pasadena, California. She holds a doctorate in ecology, evolution, and marine biology and a bachelor's degree in aquatic biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Orphan is a 2016 MacArthur Fellow and was a fellow at the American Academy of Microbiology in 2015. She received awards from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Marine Microbiology Initiative in 2013 and the International Society of Microbial Ecology in 2012. In studying how microbes interact with and alter the world around them, Orphan focuses on the ways in which microbes in deep-sea environments help keep greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

Yuval Sharon founded and serves as artistic director of The Industry in Los Angeles, a company devoted to new and experimental opera that has brought opera into such alternative spaces as moving vehicles, train stations, Hollywood sound stages, warehouses, parking lots, and escalator corridors. Described by The New York Times as "opera's disrupter in residence," director Sharon has been creating an unconventional body of work that seeks to expand the operatic form. Sharon is currently artist-in-residence at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where his projects include newly commissioned works, site-specific installations, and performances outside the hall. Productions include "War of the Worlds," a staging of Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" with Gustavo Dudamel, and a new production of Meredith Monk's "ATLAS." Sharon was honored with a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship and a Foundation for Contemporary Art grant for theater.

Melodie Yashar is an architect, designer, technologist, and researcher. Primarily working in spatial design, her work is often experiential, narrative, and interactive. Yashar is currently working on relationships between software and hardware systems in addition to material engineering and science for the space sector. She received a master's degree in human-computer interaction from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University as well as a master of architecture degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she received an Honors Award for Excellence in Total Design. She is co-founder and member of SEArch+ (Space Exploration Architecture), a group dedicated to developing human-supporting concepts for space exploration, and was formerly co-founder and design director for Sonic Platforms, a media collective operating at the intersection of audiovisual art and the built environment. Working with leading aerospace subject-matter experts and engineers, SEArch+ partnered with Clouds AO and won first place in NASA's Phase I Design Competition for a 3D-Printed Habitat with their proposal, Mars Ice House.

Juan Devis is chief creative officer of PBS SoCal. He is responsible for the oversight of all production and editorial output. Devis develops creative strategies that define KCET, Link and PBS SoCal's editorial and artistic vision. Devis has spearheaded the public media company's multi-platform transformation with the creation of award-winning content that includes the Emmy® award-winning series "Artbound," "City Rising," and "Lost LA" as well as the James Beard-nominated "The Migrant Kitchen," "Broken Bread," and "Tending the Wild," among others. For more than a decade, Devis has worked with a number of nonprofit organizations and media arts institutions in Los Angeles, serving as producer, director, educator and board member. Devis was appointed to serve as a member of the California Arts Council and is a trustee of the California Historical Society. He has won numerous awards for his film, TV, and interactive work including Emmys, Webbys, National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards and more.

Future Perfect: The Huntington's Next Hundred Years

For the past 100 years, The Huntington has examined the human experience through the lens of its incomparable library, art, and botanical collections. For the Centennial launch event, the directors of each collection area will discuss unique challenges and opportunities in their areas as they look toward the next 100 years.

Sandra Ludig Brooke, Avery Director of the Library
Sandra Brooke is responsible for a staff of more than 75 and a world-renowned collection of some 11 million items that span the 11th to 21st centuries. These diverse materials center on 14 intersecting collection strengths that encompass American, British, Hispanic, and Pacific Rim history and culture; literature in English; the history of science, technology, and medicine; and architecture and landscape design. Objects collected include early printed books, medieval manuscripts, maps and atlases, photography, prints, posters, and ephemera. Brooke has been involved in numerous digital initiatives and believes strongly in the power of computing and media to transform scholarship and to amplify the deep intrinsic values of library special collections.

Christina Nielsen, Hannah and Russel Kully Director of the Art Collections
Christina Nielsen is responsible for the development, care, and interpretation of The Huntington's European and American art collections, numbering 42,000 objects, as well as their display in two buildings—the Huntington Art Gallery and the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art. She leads the art collections' professional staff and provides vision for the institution's temporary exhibitions program, which includes large-scale shows presented in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery.

James Folsom, Marge and Sherm Telleen/Marion and Earle Jorgensen Director of the Botanical Gardens
James Folsom oversees more than a dozen thematic gardens covering 120 acres of the 207-acre Huntington grounds and serves as visionary and project head for the development of new gardens and botanical facilities as well as the maintenance and restoration of the historic gardens. He dedicates much of his effort at The Huntington to increasing public interest and understanding of the science, culture, and history of plants and gardens. Under his purview are approximately 85 staff members, including 10 curators, 40 gardeners, and numerous technicians and other staff as well as more than 100 volunteers who maintain the botanical collections, provide interpretive programs for visitors, and propagate plants.

100 Years of Music: Animating the Archive

Cultural historian Josh Kun will present a performance by LA-based musician Dexter Story, who will interpret sheet music from the Harold Bruce Forsythe collection at The Huntington. The Huntington has a long history of collecting materials related to theater and music. The Harold Bruce Forsythe collection consists of manuscripts of musical scores, poems, short stories, essays, and a novel. Forsythe was an African American composer, author, and poet of the 1920s and 1930s. Born in 1908, he grew up in Los Angeles, attended Manual Arts High School, and studied classical piano and composition at Juilliard Graduate School from 1927 to 1928. By 1940, Forsythe's advancing deafness ended his career as a musician and composer. He died in 1976.

Josh Kun is director of the school of communication, professor of communication and journalism, and chair in cross-cultural communication in the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California. Kun is a 2016 MacArthur Fellow and the winner of a 2018 Berlin Prize and a 2006 American Book Award. His research focuses on the arts and politics of cultural connection, with an emphasis on popular music, sound, the cultures of globalization, the US-Mexico border, Los Angeles, and Jewish American musical history. He also works as a journalist, essayist, and curator.

Dexter Story is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, music director, producer and music industry creative based in Los Angeles. Story currently consults as "artivist" in residence/event producer at Community Coalition of South Los Angeles, a community organizing and advocacy nonprofit, and he is a 2017–19 Association of Performing Arts Professionals Leadership fellow. As a master of arts graduate in African Studies from UCLA, Story recently released an acclaimed East Africa-influenced album entitled "Bahir" on Soundway Records, and he is entering the ethnomusicology doctorate program at UCLA in fall 2019 as a four-year Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow.

Todd Simon and the Angel City All-Star Brass Band
Todd Simon is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, and performer living and working in Los Angeles. Todd has found a niche providing soulful horn and string sounds for countless projects and has had his unique sound sampled by such artists as Ghostface Killah, DJ Premier, and Lily Allen. The Angel City All-Star Brass Band is a 20+-piece horn and percussion "banda" composed of Los Angeles-area musicians performing cumbia, Afrobeat, Jamaican, soul and more.

Karen R. Lawrence, President of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Karen R. Lawrence assumed her position as the ninth president of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens on Sept. 1, 2018, following a decade as president at Sarah Lawrence College, a small, highly regarded liberal arts college in Yonkers, NY. President Lawrence's Huntington position marks her return to Southern California, where she led the School of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) as its dean from 1998 to 2007. Throughout her career, she has been a forceful advocate for the liberal arts. She has served as president of the International James Joyce Foundation and the Society for the Study of Narrative Literature. She currently serves on the board of the National Humanities Center in the Research Triangle, NC.

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Thea M. Page, 626-405-2260,
Jessica McCormack, 323-497-9308,

About The Huntington
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public. More information about The Huntington can be found online at

Visitor Information
The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, CA, 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. It is open to the public Wednesday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. Information: 626-405-2100 or