Walter and Leonore Annenberg understood fully the importance of retaining records for posterity. Although they couldn’t have known the extent to which Sunnylands, completed in 1966, would become a significant historic site, they saved every piece of ephemera related to the estate, which resulted in a remarkable record of one of America’s most important homes. The Sunnylands Archives contains tens of thousands of objects, documents, books, and photographs that reveal the significant social history of Sunnylands, including visits from US presidents, foreign dignitaries, and royalty.
The Annenbergs were prolific collectors of fine and decorative art, who consistently sought best-in-class examples across their broad areas of interest.
They surrounded themselves at Sunnylands with significant European works of art by Auguste Rodin, Jean Arp, Yaacov Agam, Pablo Picasso, and Alberto Giacometti. They dotted their 200 acres of lush grounds with a variety of compelling monuments inspired by their travels, including a totem pole by renowned Kwakiutl carver Henry Hunt; a bronze fountain by the Chávez Morado brothers inspired by the one on view at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City; and an abstract avian sculpture by Canadian artist Art Price, Birds of Welcome, another impression of one Price made for the Gander International Airport.
A wide variety of decorative objects adorns the home, including Tiffany, Lalique, and Boucheron designs, Steuben crystal, Chinese cloisonné, Tang dynasty funerary figures, Chinese export porcelain, and royal pedigree English silver-gilt.
To complement the grand entertaining that took place at Sunnylands, there is an extravagant collection of fine English and American silver; a variety of luxurious china patterns, including a Flora Danica service for 38; two patterns of Georg Jensen flatware; Baccarrat stemware; finely embroidered Léron Linens; color-themed guest suite serviceware; and exquisite table decorations fit for entertaining a queen, president, or prime minister.