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Design of the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum unveiled


Design of the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum unveiled

Reed Hilderbrand and Trahan Architects designed the project.

By David Malone, Associate Editor | November 16, 2020
National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at the U.S. Arboretum

Renderings: Design Distill for Reed Hilderbrand/Trahan Architects

The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts has approved a new concept design for the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at the U.S. National Arboretum.

Located within the U.S. National Arboretum’s Core, the museum is conceived as an immersive and cohesive garden experience. The design organizes the Museum’s program around a central court that orients the visitor to a network of paths that lead to the four exhibitions, an expanded classroom, and administrative services. The exhibitions are conceived not as buildings, but as gardens, and blur the boundaries with the larger, surrounding garden.


National Bonsai and Penjing Museum exhibit


The design also establishes a pervasive grove of understory trees as the principal image and identity of the Museum. Mixed species surround and frame the various exhibitions and the central court. Garden walls organize a path through the display while charred wood posts and trellises rise above the exhibitions to filter light and shape a sense of enclosure.

The National Bonsai and Penjing Museum is the first project in Reed Hilderbrand’s Master Plan Update for the U.S. National Arboretum’s core.


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