Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Prestigious "Ranch" Turned Art Museum

While most associate ranches with the "wild west," cowboys, rodeos and horses, Sunnylands Rancho Mirage California is not your typical ranch. Ambassador Walter and Leonore Annenberg had their 200-acre estate built during the 1960s near Palm Springs.

The Annenbergs lived in this desert oasis, which includes a 25,000 square-foot mid-century modern house and private golf course, each year for several months during the winter after its completion. The "ranch" has since entertained seven US presidents, British royalty, international political figures and cultural and entertainment icons.

The Annenbergs were extremely philanthropic, and in their memory, Sunnylands will undergo a transformation, becoming an art museum (and VIP conference center) in late 2011. The exquisite home contains the Annenberg's extensive collection of impressive art, including paintings by Van Gogh and Gauguin, two Rodins, a Giacometti, Chinese bronzes and stained glass. The art will be displayed among the home's original interior (which features period furniture).

The new Annenberg Center promises to offer visitors an understanding of the mid-century modern architecture and art collections at Sunnylands, the many important political and cultural figures who visited the ranch throughout the years and new sustainable approaches to living in the desert.

Associate professor of American art at the University of Pennsylvania, who has previously written about the house, recently stated:

"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."

Maybe these picturesque views do evoke true visions of a quintessential (all-be-it, extremely luxurious) wild-west style ranch.