Small Talk Exhibition Guide

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Small Talk: All the dirt on growing mini-but-mighty trees

New special exhibition opens May 11 at BonsaiFEST!

Bonsai—often described as a conversation between a person and a tree—is about understanding nature’s subtle language. Because trees communicate nonverbally, caring for a bonsai requires patient observation and horticultural understanding. But what if a bonsai could tell you exactly what it needs? What if these miniature trees could answer all your questions about their care, growth, and life? What if you could ask a bonsai a question and actually get a reply?

Chat with a bonsai and ask them all your questions! Small Talk brings the material of textbooks to life with 41 living trees. Through anime-inspired illustrations of miniature trees, emojis, and lighthearted, text-like exchanges, the exhibition bridges the gap between textbook STEM education and real-world fun. From “Thirst Alerts” to “Sunlight Status Updates” and “Pruning Notifications,” Small Talk answers common, botanically-oriented questions about bonsai in the format of a chat. This exhibition will include interactive stations, where you can try your hand at bonsai wiring and sift through the bonsai’s special soil. The exhibition area will also be punctuated with several vividly-colored, graphic, painted murals by local artist Judy Chia Hui Hsu.

Small Talk offers something different for families that is fun, educational, and gets kids out into nature. But this is something that the whole family can enjoy and learn from. Anyone who comes to visit these amazing trees and takes time to understand a little about their needs will get something out of a visit.

Small Talk runs May 7, 2024 through November 2, 2025. Admission is free. There is a $12 suggested donation for those who are able to support the Museum.

Skating the Edge: Exhibitions from Pacific Bonsai Museum’s First Ten Years

New special exhibition opens May 11 at BonsaiFEST!

As we reflect on our first ten years as an independent non-profit organization, we are thrilled to revisit four of our most powerful and publicly-beloved exhibitions.

Decked-Out: From Scroll to Skateboard (2016) replaced traditional hanging scrolls with custom skate decks, brilliantly painted by top Pacific Northwest urban muralists. This unique fusion of bonsai and skate culture offered fresh perspectives on both art forms, attracting a new wave of bonsai enthusiasts.

Natives (2017) marked the first exhibition to solely feature bonsai trees indigenous to the United States, complemented by Iuna Tinta’s vivid landscapes depicting their natural habitats. Natives highlighted the beauty and diversity of America’s native trees, making bonsai more accessible and relatable to domestic audiences.

World War Bonsai: Remembrance & Resilience (2020) traced the journey of bonsai through the lens of history, from pre-WWII Japan to the United States, amidst adversity and peace. Through bonsai, artifacts, and personal stories, the exhibition illuminated the resilience of those who nurtured this art form under the most challenging circumstances, fostering a global bonsai community.

Avant-garden (2023) highlighted trailblazers who redefined bonsai by embracing experimentation and innovation with courage to break from tradition. A collective testament to personal expression, cultural identity, and contemporary relevance, Avant-garden challenged conventional views on bonsai and previewed the exciting evolution of this timeless art.

Join us as we embark on a journey through a decade of exhibitions that have shaped the landscape of bonsai art in America, celebrating both its enduring legacy and its vibrant future.

On view May 11, 2024 through November 3, 2024 in our Pinwheel exhibition space.

Past Exhibits


May 13, 2022 – Sept 10 2023. Learn more…


Stone Images XIII

Nov 14, 2023 – Mar 31 2024. Read more.


A Gallery of Trees: Living Art of Pacific Bonsai Museum

May 7, 2022 – Nov 5, 2023.


Stone Images XII

Nov 1, 2022 – Jan 8 2023. Read more.


De Groot: A Retrospective

May 7, 2022 – Sept. 11, 2022

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Stone Images XI

Nov 2, 2021 – Jan 09, 2022

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World War Bonsai, Remembrance & resilience

July 8, 2020 – Oct 10, 2021

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FOLSE: a retrospective

MAY 29, 2021 – AUG 28, 2021

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Stone Images X

OCT 15, 2019 – Jan 5, 2020

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Principles of Design

MAY 11 – OCT 15, 2019

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Stone Images IX

OCT 16 – DEC 16, 2018

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Living Art of Bonsai: Elements of Design

APR 21 – SEPT 30, 2018

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APR 8 – OCT 8, 2017

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Stone Images VIII

FEB 18 – MAR 26, 2017

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APR 30 – OCT 2, 2016

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stone images vii

MAR 26 – APR 24, 2016

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MAY 8 – SEP 30, 2015

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Stone Images Vi

APR 3 – MAY 3, 2015

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