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Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The official opening of the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia.


On a lovely sunny Canberra morning hundreds of people from all over Australia gathered together to witness the official opening of the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia (NBPCA).

There were three people from Western Australia, one from Tasmania and many from the rest of the states including numerous bus loads of people from Sydney and lots of local Canberrans also. Some of the attendees were proud parents of the bonsai that they had loaned or donated to the NBPCA while others were here just to participate in the opening of the first truly national collection of bonsai in Australia.

The speeches were made in a marquee some two hundred metres away and then the focus moved to the site of the collection.  There, the Interim Curator, Mr Grant Bowie, struck a brass gong to call guests attention and the new NBPCA bonsai pavilion was officially opened with a simultaneous ribbon cutting ceremony performed by the Chief Minister of the ACT, Mr John Stanhope and the chairman of the Bonsai Management Committee Dr Roger Hnatiuk. The twin cutting of the ribbon was to symbolise the cooperation between the Act government and the bonsai community of Australia in making this collection possible.

Dr Hnatiuk conducted Mr John Stanhope through the bright red entrance gate to be the first official guest of the collection and then the rest of the gathered bonsai community filed through to view the collection. For the next hour and a half the collection was full of the excited specialist bonsai audience and many pictures were taken of both the bonsai and the guests.

The annual floral festival in Canberra, Floriade, was in full swing and we were right in the middle of it both geographically and time wise, so by mid day the rope barriers were removed and the general public were allowed in to see the collection as well.

During the 23 days that the NBPCA was open during Floriade we had 38,770 visitors pass through the collection, many of them local Canberrans. The locals were especially pleased when they learned that they were viewing a permanent collection on the site rather than a temporary Floriade display and many said they would be back with their interstate visitors or come back in a quiet moment outside of Floriade to view it for themselves.

All of the comments on the collection, both verbal and written in the visitors book, were very complimentary of the bonsai, the display facility and the combined effort of the ACT gov and the bonsai community to establish the NBPCA.

The guides of the collection, resplendent in their red coats, answered lots of questions about the collection in general and many specific questions on their favorite trees on display. Each of the bonsai on display seemed to be someone’s favorite and it showed how balanced the collection is in terms of deciduous, evergreen, conifer and native. The mix of styles present and the forests were also very popular.

We are now looking forward to reopening the collection once Commonwealth Park has been cleared of the Floriade infrastructure. We intend to open 7 days a week from Saturday the 25th of October with daily opening hours currently 10am till 3pm.

Check out the Gallery of Australian bonsai artists who have trees in the collection.

Grant Bowie

Last Updated ( Monday, 20 July 2009 )
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