The National Bonsai Foundation is driven by a passion for bonsai and the Museum. We're preserving a history, protecting a legacy, and preparing a future.
Founded in 1982, the National Bonsai Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit that works in cooperation with the U.S. National Arboretum to supply financial, programmatic and curatorial support for the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. The Foundation offices and Museum are located on the grounds of the Arboretum in Northeast Washington, DC.
This private/public collaboration between the Foundation and the Arboretum enables the Museum to promote the art of bonsai and penjing to visitors through masterpiece displays and educational programs while also fostering intercultural friendship and understanding.
In 1976, in honor of America’s Bicentennial, the people of Japan gave the gift of bonsai to the citizens of the United States. Once the trees arrived in Washington, DC, the Potomac Bonsai Association (PBA) provided volunteers to work with the staff of the U.S. National Arboretum to keep the trees in outstanding display condition. These first bonsai would later go on to form the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum.
Group moves bonsai from Glenn Dale, MD to arboretum in 1976.
In 1979, PBA Volunteer, Janet Lanman along with Dr. John Creech, Director of the Arboretum and Marion Gyllenswan, a well known bonsai teacher, discussed the possibility of acquiring American bonsai. Later, a group of Arboretum volunteers, as well as students of Bonsai Master Yuji Yoshimura, organized the National Bonsai Committee. In 1982, the committee, which included Marion Gyllenswan, Janet Lanman, Felix Laughlin, Muriel Leeds, Chase Rosade and Jerold Stowell, formed the National Bonsai Foundation (NBF).
The National Bonsai Foundation recruited directors from all sections of the country, and established a board that included Marybel Balendonck, Larry Ragle, Melba Tucker, Frederic Ballard and H. William Merritt. The first Executive Director role was filled by MaryAnn Orlando.
In 1986, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Japanese Bicentennial gift, NBF held a Gala Celebration and set the agenda for the future. The goal coming out of that celebration was to build an American Bonsai Pavilion that would complement the Japanese Pavilion. The two pavilions would allow the similarities and differences in this ever-evolving art form to be studied and enjoyed. That dream became a reality in 1990. As part of the ongoing collaboration between the Arboretum and NBF a new section of the Museum was dedicated on October 1st of that year in honor of two American Bonsai Masters. Today, The Yuji Yoshimura Educational Center is a classroom and work space area, while the John Y. Naka North American Pavilion provides the display area for the North American bonsai collection.
The National Bonsai Foundation has had many milestones since its founding in 1982. See a full timeline of all of these important events by clicking the button below.
People Behind the Foundation
The National Bonsai Foundation exists because of the dedication of these fine people.
John Creech (1920 – 2009), Harry Hirao (1917 – 2015) Daizo Iwasaki (1916 – 2011), Saburo Kato (1915 – 2008), John Naka (1915 – 2004), Yee sun-Wu (1902 – 2005), Yuji Yoshimura (1921 – 1997)
Dr. Thomas S. Elias - Claremont, California
Mr. Jiro Fukuda - Tokyo, Japan
Mr. Yun-hua Hu - Shanghai, China
Mrs. Naemi Iwasaki - Niihama, Ehime, Japan
Barbara Hall Marshall - Kansas City, Missouri
Mr. Yasuo Mitsuya - Toyohashi, Aichi, Japan
Kazuo Moriyama - Mizuho ku Nagoa, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
F. Chase Rosade - New Hope, Pennsylvania
Hiroshi Takeyama - Ikenohata, Taito-ku Tokyo, Japan
Ted Tzukiyama - Honolulu, Hawaii
Changbao Xin - Changzhou City, China
Keiko Yamane - Kamakara-City, Kanagawa, Japan
Dr. Johann F. Klodzen
Mr. Felix B. Laughlin (’20) - Asheville, North Carolina, Co-President
Mr. Jack Sustic (’19) - Durand, Michigan, Co-President
Mrs. Marybel Balendonck (’20) - Fullerton, California, Vice President
Dr. Carl Morimoto('21) - San Jose, California, Vice President
Mr. James Brant (‘20) - Royersford, Pennsylvania, Treasurer
Mr. Daniel Angelucci (‘21) - Harrison Township, MI, Secretary
Mr. Christopher Cochrane ('19) - Glen Allen, Virginia
Ms. Julie Crudele('20) - Annapolis, Maryland
Mr. Edward Fabian, ('21) - Niceville, Florida
Dr. Joseph Gutierrez ('21) - McLean, Virginia
Dr. Karen Harkaway ('21) - Moorestown, New Jersey
Mr. James Hughes ('20) - University Park, Maryland
Dr. Richard Kahn (‘22) - Alexandria, Virginia
Ms. Anne McClellan ('21) - Washington, DC
Ms. Cheryl Manning ('21) - Los Angeles, California
Mr. Brussel Martin (’19) - Olive Branch, Mississippi
Ms. Pauline Muth ('21) – West Charlton, NY
Mr. Douglas Paul ('21) - Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Mr. Larry Ragle (’20) - Laguna Beach, California
Dr. Errol Reese ('19) - Hillsboro Beach, Florida
Mr. Glenn Reusch (’19) - Rochelle, Virginia
Mrs. Solita Rosade (‘21) - New Hope, Pennsylvania
Dr. Deborah Rose (’19) - Beltsville, Maryland
Mr. William N. Valavanis (’19) - West Henrietta, New York
Mrs. Janice Vitale (‘19) - Great Falls, Virginia
Mr. Stephen Voss ('21) - Washington, DC
Mr. Jack W. Wells (’19) - Sarasota, Florida
Mrs. Jane Yamashiroya ('19) - Honolulu, Hawaii
Mr. Chuck Croft - President, Potomac Bonsai Association
Mr. Mark Fields - President, American Bonsai Society
Dr. Richard Olsen, Director, U. S. National Arboretum
Mr. Scott Aker, Gardens Unit Leader, U.S. National Arboretum
Mrs. Carole Bordelon, Supervisory Horticulturist, U. S. National Arboretum
Mr. Michael James, Curator, National Bonsai & Penjing Museum
Ms. Kathleen Emerson-Dell, Assistant Curator, Artifact Collections, National Bonsai & Penjing Museum
Dr. Johann F. Klodzen, Executive Director
Mrs. Elizabeth Moffett, Burdette Smith & Bish LLC, Accountant
Kendra Rubinfeld & Travis Hare (KRPR), Communications Consultant & Web Designer
Danielle Grace, Social Media Intern
Mr. Alex Breyer, Snowden Lane Partners