The Pacific Bonsai Museum, nestled within towering conifers is a unique collection of bonsai from countries bordering the Pacific Rim. The peaceful atmosphere of the displays and well maintained areas draws one into a special world to quietly experience the beauty of bonsai. The museum is located in Federal Way, Washington, near Seattle on the Weyerhauser Campus.
Weyerhaeuser Company opened the bonsai collection in 1989, in conjunction with the Washington State Centennial celebration. The bonsai collection was established to symbolize Weyerhaeuser’s long-term commitments to its customers, its community and its forest resources. At the end of 2013 the corporation gifted the entire collection to a new non-profit, The George Weyerhaeuser Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection, known as the Pacific Bonsai Museum.
Bonsai artist David DeGroot was the curator for the first 25 years and did a remarkable task of establishing a collection of over 150 trees from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Canada and the United States. He organized special exhibits as well as introduced bonsai to the public emphasizing youth. The current curator, Aarin Packard is continuing David’s excellence in promoting bonsai and introducing new exciting, innovative educational exhibits often thinking out of the box. There are special exhibits year around featuring suiseki, design elements, native displays as well as unique bonsai artists and pioneers.
The beautiful outdoor museum is open year around and heated clear display cubes protect bonsai which require a bit of extra protection during the winter. Meandering through the museum displays is a calming and moving experience, especially since every bonsai is labeled with the names and history. Important and celebrated bonsai artists from around the Pacific Rim are represented with some of their finest works. Several historically important bonsai are included in the well maintained collection.
I had a wonderful visit guided by Executive Director Kathy McCabe and Curator Aarin Packard on Saturday. They pointed out special trees and answered all of my questions, some difficult. I was fortunate to visit and enjoy the “Elements of Design” exhibit organized by Aarin Packard. I believe this is the first exhibit of bonsai which clearly defined and emphasized elements and principles of visual art applying to bonsai. These are used to create as well as to appreciate bonsai. Large signs, well designed and illustrated defined each principle and how they apply in art, in trees and in bonsai. I learned a lot through this special exhibit which I will share to others in my educational activities. The principles defined, each accompanied with an appropriate bonsai included: line, movement, shape, rhythm, form, proportion, texture, unity, color, contrast, space, balance as well as asymmetrical balance. Aarin gave me a copy of the Exhibit Guide so I can study his excellent educational exhibit in depth.
Another special exhibit featured masterworks from bonsai pioneer Dan Robinson. They were uniquely displayed with old dead wood which Dan appreciates and respects.
Visit the Pacific Bonsai Museum to experience and appreciate fine quality bonsai from around the Pacific Rim as well as to increase your knowledge and understanding of bonsai art.
Pacific Bonsai Museum
2515 S 336th Street
Federal Way, WA 98001
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