As our curatorial team is hard at work renovating the new Korean Gallery, another group of staff and volunteers are also restoring and maintaining our courtyard. For several months a dedicated group of staff, trustees, docents and volunteers have done weekly gardening maintenance and are working toward a comprehensive knowledge of the various plants and other features of our courtyard. In addition, restoration of the roundel, the beautiful doors and other features has been a top priority.
As this group does the essential work of keeping our garden in good shape, they’re also learning. With the help of guest experts from local gardens and nurseries, they hope to identify every plant and research its cultural connections. For example, after identifying the camellia japonica, the group found that the seed pods of the tree have historically been ground up and applied to the face as a beauty treatment in Japan. Today, essential oils and other extracts from the plant are still used in beauty products. Learning not only about the plants but also their cultural significance will help the museum share even more about Asian culture with our visitors.
We’ve also brought in specialists to return our big blue doors at the entrance to the courtyard to their former glory. Longtime supporters Robert and Susan Bishop have generously funded the effort to inspect and restore these “Doors to Education.” Made of wood and wrapped in tin, the doors are original to the building (built in 1926!) and have weathered quite a bit. To prevent the wood from rotting, our specialist Mike had to expose it first– he cut through the tin and pulled it off to apply a resin to the wood itself. He then fitted a new sheet of tin onto the door and painted it over to match the original color. There’s still more work to be done on the opposite door and on the iron metalwork, but we’re taking great steps to preserve our building for future generations.
Interested in learning more? We can always use more volunteers Tuesday morning when our gardening group meets to maintain the grounds and do research. Contact Sunny Stevenson, our Volunteer Coordinator at 626-449-2742 x 30 and get involved! ~CM