Lifelines/Timelines graphic

Lifelines/Timelines: Exploring The Huntington’s Collections Through Bonsai

Oct. 17, 2020Jan. 25, 2021
Installations outside five galleries: Mapel Orientation Gallery, East Library, West Library, Huntington Art Gallery, and Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art

Visitors can discover an expansive new way to look at miniature trees in “Lifelines/Timelines: Exploring The Huntington’s Collections Through Bonsai,” The exhibition asks the question: How do five venerable bonsai trees relate in age and historical significance to important works in The Huntington's library and art collections? With an interdisciplinary approach that only The Huntington could offer, "Lifelines/Timelines" explores the march of time by comparing the age of selected California juniper bonsai alongside benchmarks in the institution's 100-year history, and with significant pieces in the collections. Lines in the grain of natural deadwood sections of these bonsai can be used to calculate the tree's age, much like the rings in a cross-section. Which line of a tree's growth corresponds to the publication of Shakespeare's First Folio in 1623? How does its age relate to the creation of Thomas Gainsborough's masterpiece, The Blue Boy, painted ca. 1770? Each of the exhibition's five bonsai installations, located outside gallery spaces, include an illustrated timeline, interactive elements geared toward children, and other interpretive materials, offering an entirely new perspective on The Huntington's holdings. (Note: the galleries themselves are currently closed due to COVID-19.)

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