Trees are the objects of attention at new Swiss museum
Joni Mitchell once sang about urbanization becoming so rampant that we’d have to put all the trees in a tree museum and charge everyone a dollar just to seem them. So for about $13 USD (or 15 CHF) admission fee once can see how trees in Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland now have the honor of being objects of art rather than just the materials that frame them.
On Monday, the Tree Museum situated on a 75,000-square- metre site near Upper Lake Zurich, opened its gates. Conceived as an oval-shaped, open-air museum, which is divided into a series of ‘rooms’, each with their own atmosphere and character, the museum exhibits individual trees from the collection of Enzo Enem. The purpose of the museum is to emphasize the exceptional presence, beauty and rarity of the exhibited trees and also so Enea’s constellations will help shape visitors’ perception of time and space, and how these are intrinsically embedded in the very essence of these ancient and venerable trees.
The idea of creating a tree museum was a natural extension to Enea’s many years of work intensely observing and studying trees combined with an increasing
understanding of how to sense and handle them not only provided the foundation for his reputation
in the field, but also instilled in him a boundless admiration and respect for trees. To share these experiences with a wider audience,
Enea decided to create a museum for his trees, reserving for the care and attention usually given to artworks. His
concept of constructing open-air ‘spaces’ – a characteristic of all Enea gardens – allows for trees
to be singled out and to become ‘individuals’, as visitors are led to walk around these rooms and
to observe the trees from different angles.
Enea wants visitors to experience multitude of different elements including the ‘magnificence of the trees themselves, the microclimate
they create around them, the variety of textures, the effects of spacing and proportions
and the landscape architecture in which they are embedded.’ However, one of the most remarkable characteristics of most trees on view is their age, he said. “The awakening to a need for
‘slow life’, and respect and admiration for nature and the environment are key elements evoked
by the Tree Museum. Its spirit, its genius loci, will help to ‘externalize’ whatever it is these ancient
shapes reflect in our subconscious,” he said.
The museum will feature approximately 50 trees representing more than 25 varieties, and showing
several examples that are more than 100 years old. Sophisticated techniques
influenced by the ancient art of Bonzai shaping were applied to transplant and preserve the
trees. Another 100 trees and plants are located in the park surrounding the Tree Museum,
which will also serve as a landscape architecture and space laboratory.
In total, the museum and park zones contain more than 2,000 exclusive wood species that Enea
has collected over the past 17 years. The collection includes a 130-year-old red Japanese maple, and a Saucer magolia estimated to be between 75 and 80 years old and an 80-year-old English yew.
A central feature on the grounds is the 2,500-square-metre headquarters building of Enea
Garden Design, which recently moved to Rapperswill from Schmerikon, in front of which sits a sprawling, lava-layered lake. The building was designed by American architecture firm Oppenheim Architecture & Design and houses an exhibition
of selected garden furniture, a library, a museum shop as well as a group of works of art
and design. The building also earned an American Architecture Award 2009, by the Chicago
Athenaeum. Oppenheim Architecture & Design, which has offices in New York, Miami and Los Angeles, plans to open an office in Basel this month. Enzo Enea and Chad Oppenheim have collaborated in the past and are currently working on a master plans for center of the Chinese
port city Tianjin.
So walk, bike or take a big yellow taxi to see the Tree Museum.