The Pleasure of Your Company: Entertaining at Sunnylands
Sunnylands is known for its art, architecture, and immaculately sculpted grounds. But above all, it’s famous for the extraordinary hospitality enjoyed by its visitors, whether they came for a summit meeting, a party, or simply a relaxing weekend when Walter and Leonore Annenberg were in residence. When one was lucky enough to stay at Sunnylands, the experience was like no other in the world.
“How can I ever thank you for that incredible weekend (all too short, as it was)…rarely have I enjoyed myself so much or had such a marvelous opportunity to relax completely as I did with you. You both have a brilliant knack of being a marvelous host and hostess and plying your guests with unbelievable hospitality – none of which is ever forgettable.”
- HRH Prince Charles
In celebration of the historic and ongoing social history of Sunnylands, the current exhibition focuses on five memorable events at Sunnylands: the wedding of Frank Sinatra and Barbara Marx in July 1976; the 1980 New Year’s Eve celebration honoring president-elect Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy; a luncheon hosted in honor of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Phillip in February 1983; the official dinner hosted by President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush for the Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu in March 1990; and the state dinner hosted by President Barack Obama for Chinese President Xi Jinping in June 2013.
The exhibition can be the perfect complement to a tour of the historic house and grounds, or it can be appreciated on its own. The Pleasure of Your Company: Entertaining at Sunnylands includes rare photos, objects, and documents from the Sunnylands archives.
20th Century Sculpture
In 1976 Walter Annenberg wrote, "Ultimately, Sunnylands will be turned over to the public and I naturally take care in the selection of acquisitions for this long-range responsibility."
As part of this vision, some items from the collection are installed at the Center for public viewing and education. Included are significant works of sculpture dating primarily from the 20th century.
"If it moved me, that was enough. Being moved is what collecting is all about."
An Interactive Gallery and Theater
Throughout Sunnylands Center, visitors will find historical and educational materials about the historic house and the Annenbergs. A large gallery contains six interactive media stations. Here, visitors can explore touch-screen kiosks that each focus on a specific aspect of Sunnylands. Through photos, videos, and interviews guests will learn about midcentury modern architecture, the house's interior design and golf course, the art collections, the Annenbergs and their Sunnylands guests, and sustainability practices. One of the highlights of the gallery is a 3-D film that uses the latest technology and requires no glasses. It explores how the historic estate was built and how it changed over the years.
In the intimate 45-seat theater, one can view A Place Called Sunnylands, an orientation film, that plays regularly. The kiosks and films are an excellent way to become familiar with the Annenbergs and the history of Sunnylands.