Tucked away in an unassuming part of Federal Way, WA and surrounded by a forest, it would be easy to overlook the Pacific Bonsai Museum. But this little artistic gem deserves recognition as an ideal outing for Puget Sound residents or those travelling up the I-5 corridor. Perfect for children of any age, a couple on a date or with loved ones with limited mobility, this outdoor museum is accessible for the whole family.
Overview and History
This outdoor museum is probably unlike anything you’ve seen before. With over 150 different types of Bonsai in their collection, the museum features a rotating display of around 60 different species of tree depending on the season. This large and varied assortment does in fact make the Pacific Bonsai Museum the most diverse public collection in North America. Bonsai from all over the world are featured here, and they even have trees dating all the way back to the year 1500!
The museum sits adjacent to the impressive former home of the Weyerhaeuser timber products company. The bonsai collection was created in 1989 by the company and the name was changed to the Pacific Bonsai Museum in 2013.
Bonsai Collections – What You’ll See
You can watch the video below to get an idea of the open air feel of this unique museum layout.
Used with permission. Pacific Bonsai Museum
The pathway through the outdoor museum is raked several times a day, adding to the zen atmosphere that is heightened by the layout of freestanding outdoor walls and ever-changing artwork. The privacy and quietness of this self guided museum allows you to really immerse yourself in the world of nature and feel surrounded by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
In addition to the museum walk, there are quite a few trails scattered throughout the entire campus. See here for a map detailing all the routes.
While you’re here, don’t forget to read the description boards placed next to most of the Bonsai, as it will provide you with the age and the science behind each individual plant.
Photography and Artwork
Personal photography is “strongly encouraged” according to their website, and if you would like to set up with a tripod, just make sure to ask the front desk for permission first. Weddings and events can also be hosted at the gardens.
Sample Bonsai Varieties
If you fall in love with the art of Bonsai during your visit, not to fret, there is a nursery on site where you are able to purchase your new piece of natures artwork to take home with you.
Admission is free, but if you would like to make a day out of the visit, proceed to the gift shop where tickets for the Rhododendron Gardens (on the same property) are available for a small fee. The museum is always grateful to accept donations as well.
What You Need To Know
The museum is located at 2515 S. 336th St., Federal Way, WA 98001.
Tuesday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
3rd Thursdays, March – September: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Whether you want to visit on a Wednesday morning with your toddler or on Sunday evening with your partner, your visit to this peaceful exhibit is sure to be memorable.
All photos and videos used with permission. Courtesy of the Pacific Bonsai Museum.