Collectors USA

Annenberg ranch to open as museum

The Palm Springs home of the late philanthropist and diplomat will be turned into a museum and conference centre, with presidential-level security

LONDON. The late Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s winter home and ranch, Sunnylands, in southern California near Palm Springs, is being turned into a house-museum dedicated to the philanthropists’ memory, and a VIP conference centre. The latter will have presidential-level security to permit heads of state to meet there, much as they did when the Annenbergs were alive.

A spokesperson for the Sunnylands Trust told The Art Newspaper: “The house has to be a living thing. We are working on a new line that is both presentation and use.” The planned opening date is late 2011.

Many US presidents visited the Annenbergs—Reagan, Nixon and Eisenhower were friends—as did royalty, film and sports stars. Attractions include a golf course, which surrounds the house, a classic example of mid-20th-century modernism designed by the architect A. Quincy Jones.

Completed in 1966, the house contains paintings by Van Gogh and Gauguin, two Rodins and a Giacometti, plus Chinese bronzes and stained glass, displayed in the original interiors featuring period furniture.

Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, associate professor of American art at the University of Pennsylvania, who has written about the house, said: “Once you are within the gates the landscaping acts to occlude the outside world so that all you can see are the mountains and the sky. It is like the Annenbergs owned all of Palm Springs.”

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