Huntington Library’s “Lifelines/Timelines” exhibition to explore museum’s collections through bonsai, March 14 – June 15

Left: California juniper bonsai (Juniperus californica), styled from plant material approximately 500 years old. Photo by Andrew Mitchell. Right: Frederic Edwin Church, Chimborazo, 1864. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
Lifelines/Timelines: Exploring The Huntington’s Collection Through Bonsai
March 14 – June 15, 2020

SAN MARINO, Calif.—Visitors will discover an expansive new way to look at miniature trees in “Lifelines/Timelines: Exploring The Huntington’s Collections Through Bonsai,” on view March 14 through June 15 at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

The exhibition, one of the keystone events of The Huntington’s yearlong Centennial Celebration, asks the question: How do five venerable bonsai trees relate in age and historical significance to masterpieces of literature and art?

Thematically linking works across The Huntington’s broad collections, this interdisciplinary exhibition traces the march of time by comparing the age of selected California juniper bonsai trees to benchmarks in the institution’s 100-year history and to significant pieces on view in the library and art galleries—among them Shakespeare’s First Folio, published in 1623, and Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy, painted in 1770.

One bonsai tree and a related didactic display will be positioned outside each of five gallery entrances: the Mapel Orientation Gallery, the Library Exhibition Hall, the Dibner Hall of the History of Science, the Huntington Art Gallery, and the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art.

“One of the most common questions we get about our bonsai collection at The Huntington is ‘How old is that tree?’” said curator Ted Matson. “In this exhibition, we will not only reveal how we can estimate the ages of some of our oldest bonsai trees, but demonstrate how a lifeline for a tree’s survival builds a timeline into history.”