Origami in the Garden

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s latest exhibit puts the art of folding paper on full display with a garden and metal twist

White Bison, part of the Origami in the Garden exhibit at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
White Bison

photo by Jason Boudreau-Landis


Whenever I see a crane, dinosaur, or any other animal meticulously folded out of a piece of paper, my first thought is always, “That’s pretty cool.” Which is usually followed by, “How is that even possible?” But that’s coming from someone whose wrapped gifts look like the equivalent of Dr. Frankenstein’s monster if it were a Christmas present (every year my family never fails to poke fun at how ridiculous they look). Luckily for me and everyone else, there are people out there far more talented than I am at folding things, and there are even people who can take those paper creations and blow them up to a much larger scale using different materials. That’s what the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s latest exhibit—Origami in the Garden—is all about.

From now through October 21, visitors can check out the works of Kevin and Jennifer Box, who have teamed up with world-renowned origami artists Robert J. Lang, Michael G. LaFosse, Beth Johnson, Te JuiFu, and Tim Armijo to create bronze, aluminum, and steel sculptures rather than the traditional paper ones.

Forty of these works can be found within 25 displays throughout the gardens near the Oswald Visitor Center, featuring cranes, bison, horses, butterflies and more. An additional 24 pieces can be found indoors in the Reedy Gallery, including six unfolding wall hangings, six cast maquettes (small scale models), six origami paper models, and six crease-pattern wall hangings.

If just looking at them isn’t enough for you, there are a number of opportunities to sate your curiosity and paper-folding desires:

Garden Origami Folding Station

Teach yourself the ways of the craft at this self-guided station before taking your garden-themed triumphs home with you when you’re done.

Saturdays and Sundays, June-Sept. | Learning Center | Free with gate admission

PlantMaker Studio: Blooming Branches Ink Painting

Leave the paper behind in exchange for some brushes when you learn the art of Chinese and Japanese ink-brush paintings as you create your own branches, tree trunks, and tree blossoms.

Saturdays and Sundays, June-July | Drop-in noon-4 p.m. | Learning Center | Free with gate admission

PlantMaker Studio: Hand-made Plant Paper

Ever wanted to make your own paper or show off your crafting skills? Now’s your chance. Learn how to make your own hand-made paper using arboretum plants at this informational class.

Saturdays and Sundays, Aug.-Sept. | Drop-in noon-4 p.m. | Learning Center | Free with gate admission

Create-Your-Own-Kokedama: A Drop-in Mini Workshop

What’s a kokedama? A kokedama is a ball of soil that’s covered in moss from which ornamental plants grow, and now you can make your own during this class.

Saturday, June 9, 2-4 p.m. Limit 60, Oswald Visitor Center-Visitor Center Balcony
Saturday, July 14, 2-4 p.m. Limit 60, Oswald Visitor Center-Visitor Center Balcony
Saturday, Sept. 15, 2-4 p.m. Limit 60, Oswald Visitor Center-Visitor Center Balcony
Saturday, Oct. 13, 2-4 p.m. Limit 60, Oswald Visitor Center-Visitor Center Balcony

$15 per kokedama

Shinrin-yoku at the Arboretum

If you’re into more natural healing methods, this event is for you. Shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” is a form of therapy that involves surrounding yourself in nature for calm and rejuvenation, in an effort to achieve restorative benefits. Join instructor Tom Bezek, a trained nature-therapy guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, for a journey through the arboretum.

June 23, 1-3:30 p.m. Limit 12, meet at the Ordway Picnic Shelter
July 14, 1-3:30 p.m. Limit 12, meet at the Ordway Picnic Shelter
Aug. 25, 1-3:30 p.m. Limit 12, meet at the Ordway Picnic Shelter
Sept. 29, 1-3:30 p.m. Limit 12, meet at the Ordway Picnic Shelter

$16 member/$31 non-member, includes arboretum admission | Ages 16-plus | Register

Folding Workshop with Origami Master Robert J. Lang

Learn from one of the best origami artists in the world at this ticketed daytime folding event.

July 19 | Details to be announced

Find out more about the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Origami in the Garden

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