I’m just gaga for all the goings-on at Sunnylands, the super-duper estate the late Ambassador and media tycoon Walter Annenberg shared with his late wife Leonore behind those pristine pink walls in Rancho Mirage. As you are probably well-aware, their estate is now used as a high-level retreat center, with tours of the 200-plus-acre estate available most of the year. But since tickets can be tricky to procure, there is another option and that is to visit the amazing attached Visitor Center and Gardens.
Although visiting the center and the gardens—not to mention shopping in the beautiful gift shop or enjoying a lovely lunch or afternoon tea— are treats unto themselves, there are always great extra things to see and do, some which entail just a bit of planning.
One thing that is a given is a walk through the exhibit of some of the Annenberg’s collection of Chinese cloisonné. Titled Imperial Splendor: Chinese Cloisonné, this selection of 35 pieces from the couple’s extensive collection—which they began collecting in 1966 and which covers the period ranging from Ming Dynasty to the 20th century—is exquisite, and will be on display through December 2013. Chinese cloisonné is the art of applying colored enamels to the surface of a metal object, creating intricate and decorative designs. The bold, beautiful colors, strong graphic elements, and beautiful forms are shown on furniture, vessels, and decorative figures, including an assortment of 12 bird-form cloisonné objects.
Although there are non-stop events listed on Sunnylands’ website, there are a few that bear mentioning. On Sundays from 11:00 a.m to 1:00 pm. during the month of March there will be a series of free live concerts in the garden, ranging from contemporary and jazz to classical. Also, to coincide with Fashion Week El Paseo, some of Leonore Annenberg’s fashions will be shown in a free event under the big white tent located in Palm Desert on Tuesday March 19 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. This lovely lady really knew how to dress, and this is something that fashionistas and their friends will not want to miss!
Sunnylands Center & Gardens are open to the public free of charge Thursdays through Sundays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., through June 30, and will reopen in September. www.sunnylands.org