The (Virtual) Pasadena Arts Scene

Living in the heart of Pasadena affords residents of Terraces at The Ambassador Gardens condos the ability to explore and adventure in the arts without leaving the comforts of their neighborhood—or even their home. While many of the must-sees in this vibrant arts community are currently closed, including the Norton Simon Museum and The Gamble House, they are still offering online resources that bring visitors up close and personal with their collections, the curation of the works, and the creative process. Even the Huntington Library, with its 16 themed gardens over more than 120 acres, has found interesting ways to keep patrons engaged at a distance.

The Norton Simon Museum is world-renowned as one of the finest personal collections ever curated. The industrialist Norton Simon assembled pieces spanning European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, as well as works of art from Southeast Asia that cover 2,000 years of history. Experience the Museum from Home, where you can search through the 12,000 items in the permanent collection online. The museum also offers programming that expands the public’s appreciation through scholarly lectures, courses, performances, and children’s activities. It all aligns with Norton Simon’s belief that a museum should be more than a repository for art: “it should also be used for teaching, seeing, and for formal and informal education.” The Museum at Home experience takes that idea and brings it directly to living rooms not just in Pasadena, but now around the world.

The Gamble House is a National Historic Landmark that encapsulates the concept of architecture as fine art. Originally built as a winter retreat for the Gamble family (of Procter & Gamble fame), The Gamble House is considered a masterpiece of American Arts and Crafts styling. While it’s closed, you can still take a Virtual Tour. Learn about its design by architectural firm Greene and Greene, taking in key details that demonstrate how it blends traditional Japanese aesthetics with California spaciousness. This home, like other Arts and Crafts buildings, is devotedly attentive to the use of both natural materials and fine craftsmanship, and in the Virtual Tour, you can explore the details of both. The landscape of Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco is reflected in the building’s rustic exterior and the teak, maple, oak, cedar, and mahogany surfaces of its interior elements. Of particular note are the different ceiling heights throughout the house: a motif that echoes the evolving and shifting California landscape. Take a virtual tour at any time of day and enjoy all its elements at your leisure.

While the internet makes it possible to virtually investigate numerous sites from around the globe, there’s still so much right here in Pasadena, such as the Huntington  Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, a collections-based educational and research institution. It houses an extensive art collection primarily dedicated to 18th– and 19th-century European works and American art from the 17th through the 20th century, complete with a landscaped botanical area that includes nearly 120 acres of gardens and a library of 7 million manuscript items and over 400,000 rare books, including one of 11 vellum copies of the Gutenberg Bible and letters and manuscripts by Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln. And they’re making new content and fascinating presentations surrounding this collection available to you online. While you won’t be able to take tea in the lovely Rose Garden Tea Room, you can view the ArtBites video series with educator and cook Maite Gomez-Rejón to review cocktail recipes inspired by the library’s rare copy of the 1862 Bartender’s Guide: How to Mix All Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks before seeing What’s Blooming in the museum’s gardens. Take a deep dive into their art collections catalog and even adopt some free background images from the museum to spruce up your next Zoom meeting.

Art lovers looking for a deeper exploration will find all that they seek and more in the museums near the Terraces at The Ambassador Gardens. Learning, research, or just the enjoyment of a master’s skilled work all await online, courtesy of some of the country’s finest galleries, museums, and institutions. Whether your passion is fine art, literature, or architecture, you’ll thrive in the Pasadena arts scene, and right now, you can conveniently do so in the comfort of your living room.


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