The Clark Center Bonsai Garden
The art of bonsai, practiced in Japan since the Heian period (794–1185), has nowadays received recognition world-wide. Within the United States, bonsai—a traditional Japanese art form of aesthetically styling miniature potted trees—has an increasing number of followers enthusiastically promoting bonsai culture. Within the relatively short period of time the Clark Center bonsai collection has been in existence it has developed in quality to rival the other major public bonsai collections in California.
Since the inception of the bonsai exhibition in 2006, a hallmark of the bonsai collection has been the relentless march toward excellence. It is not even ten years ago that the Clark Center started to collect bonsai and has since then been able to add major holdings of aesthetically and historically important bonsai. The Clark Center’s bonsai collection is now considered one of the finest in California even to the extent that the quality of the bonsai outpaced that of the exhibition area in which they were displayed.
In order to provide our visitors a superior experience and to properly display the constantly growing collection the Clark Center undertook a multi-thousand dollar expansion and re-designing project of the bonsai exhibition area in summer of 2012. Aided by the Fresno-based landscape architect Robert Boro, well-known for his Japanese-style garden designs, the bonsai exhibition area was transformed into a true bonsai stroll garden. The new design follows the principle of 'hide and reveal,' sequentially disclosing new aspects to the visitor and creating an experience of anticipation that then slowly progresses to the discovery of beauty. Visitors of the new Clark Center Bonsai Garden participate more actively than in the previous setting, guaranteeing a more personal, interpretive, and reflective experience.
On October 14, 2012, a Grand Opening Celebration was held to present the redesigned and expanded Clark Center’s Bonsai Garden. The event included a lecture by the Curator of Bonsai, Bob Hilvers (left), on the origins of the art of bonsai, a champagne reception and ribbon cutting ceremony presided over by Chairman of the Board Richard L. Schafer (center), and Member of the Board and sponsor of the expansion Dr. Richard E. Dyck (right). The new Bonsai Garden features a much more visitor friendly experience than the old bonsai exhibit through the use of a traditional hide and reveal Japanese garden design and enhanced bonsai display. Garnering acclaim from museum members and the general public alike the new Clark Center Bonsai Garden will feature docent-led tours and bonsai garden demonstrations of the art of bonsai.
In order to secure maintenance of the Bonsai Garden additional funding and sponsorship of individual bonsai is needed. If you wish to support this exciting project, adopt and sponsor a bonsai that may be of special interest to you or your family, or if you wish to be directly involved with the Bonsai Garden as a docent please contact the Clark Center for details.