The Sunnylands Collection ranges from the late Ming Dynasty (late 1500s) to the Republic of China era (1912-1949). Most of the objects in the Sunnylands Collection are from the Qing (pronounced "Ching") Dynasty (1644-1912). The art of cloisonné blossomed during this period through Imperial patronage, the advancement of technique, and an increase in the availability of enamel colors. The collection contains objects originally intended for utilitarian use by the elite, for religious purposes and rituals, and as decorative elements for palaces and houses.
The Annenbergs purchased the collection from galleries in New York and London. The majority of the collection was acquired while the couple lived in London from 1969 to 1974, where Walter was serving as the Ambassador to the Court of Saint James's. The Sunnylands Collection of cloisonné includes floral and landscape imagery, as well as a dozen bird figures. Pieces were placed in both formal and public spaces unifying the interior design of the home.