chinese garden with pavilions

Center for East Asian Garden Studies

The Huntington's Center for East Asian Garden Studies promotes innovative scholarship on the traditions of garden-making in China, Japan, and Korea.

Furthering the educational mission of The Huntington's Chinese and Japanese Gardens, the Center makes these traditions accessible to wide audiences through lectures, workshops, symposia, exhibitions, and performances.


Previous Events

Walden Pond

Ordering the Myriad Things: The Transition from Traditional Knowledge of Plants to Scientific Botany in China, 1850–1950.

In his book, Ordering the Myriad Things, Nicholas K. Menzies, research fellow in The Huntington's Center for East Asian Garden Studies, examines how traditional knowledge of plants in China gave way to scientific botany between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries. This talk focuses especially on images of plants, contrasting their representation in late-imperial Chinese painting and materia medica to the conventions of scientific botanical drawing. It highlights the work and careers of three 20th-century Chinese artists who paved the way for today's professional botanical illustrators. Recorded Feb. 17, 2022.

Walden Pond

Temples in the Cliffside: Buddhist Art in Sichuan

In her book, Temples in the Cliffside: Buddhist Art in Sichuan, Sonya Lee argues that centuries-old religious monuments can be part of the world's sustainable future. This talk focuses on the transformation of cave temples from religious centers into tourist destinations in southwest China, where venerable sites such as Leshan, Nankan, and Baodingshan have become entangled in some of the most consequential economic, political, and religious trends in Asia today.

Visit Videos and Recorded Programs to watch previously recorded lectures, conferences, podcasts, and videos.

Previous Exhibitions

A Garden of Words: The Calligraphy of Liu Fang Yuan
Part 1: Aug. 28–Dec. 13, 2021
Part 2: Jan. 29–May 16, 2022

Public Programs

Music in the Chinese Garden
Wednesdays, 1–3 p.m.
Enjoy traditional Chinese music every Wednesday afternoon in the Garden of Flowing Fragrance.

Japanese Teahouse Tours
Second Monday of every month, 11:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. (Temporarily suspended due to Covid-19.)
Learn about the history of the Japanese Garden's ceremonial teahouse and the traditions behind its use. Informal tours are offered at 20-minute intervals.

Educational and School Programs

Poetry in the Chinese Garden
Taking students to a museum or garden is a wonderful way to encourage their appreciation for, and understanding of, our natural and cultural heritage. The Huntington offers field trips designed to deeply engage students in their personal learning experiences and bring their studies to life. In the "Poetry in the Chinese Garden" program, students use poetry as an entry point to the culture of Chinese gardens, immersing themselves in the garden experience. They compare Chinese and Western landscape styles, learn about the role of literature in the garden, and create and share their own two-line poems inspired by what they see.

Chinese Garden Discovery Cart
Discovery Carts are engaging and educational mobile exhibits that offer new learning experiences to garden visitors. The Chinese Garden cart encourages visitors to learn through culturally-themed activities involving Chinese opera masks, musical instruments, poetry, apothecary, architecture, and tea preparation, all of which highlight the scholars' garden.

Public Programs

Music in the Chinese Garden
Wednesdays, 1–3 p.m.
Enjoy traditional Chinese music every Wednesday afternoon in the Garden of Flowing Fragrance.

Japanese Teahouse Tours
Second Monday of every month, 11:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. (Temporarily suspended due to Covid-19)
Learn about the history of the Japanese Garden's ceremonial teahouse and the traditions behind its use. Informal tours are offered at 20-minute intervals.

Educational and School Programs

Poetry in the Chinese Garden
Taking students to a museum or garden is a wonderful way to encourage their appreciation for, and understanding of, our natural and cultural heritage. The Huntington offers field trips designed to deeply engage students in their personal learning experiences and bring their studies to life. In the "Poetry in the Chinese Garden" program, students use poetry as an entry point to the culture of Chinese gardens, immersing themselves in the garden experience. They compare Chinese and Western landscape styles, learn about the role of literature in the garden, and create and share their own two-line poems inspired by what they see.

Chinese Garden Discovery Cart
Discovery Carts are engaging and educational mobile exhibits that offer new learning experiences to garden visitors. The Chinese Garden cart encourages visitors to learn through culturally-themed activities involving Chinese opera masks, musical instruments, poetry, apothecary, architecture, and tea preparation, all of which highlight the scholars' garden.

Red Earth by Lita Albuquerque. Photo by Karl Puchlik, courtesy of the artist.

"Red Earth"
New artwork by Lita Albuquerque titled "Red Earth" on view in the Japanese Garden at The Huntington. Photo by Karl Puchlik, courtesy of the artist. Read

Old photograph of a gathering in a Chinese garden

"Unscholarly" Gardens: Rethinking the Gardens of China
Exploring "unscholarly" spaces such as monastic gardens, merchant gardens, medicinal gardens, and market gardens, this symposium challenges common assumptions about what makes a garden in China. Listen

Garden designed by I.M. Pei

Transformations of the Chinese Garden
Hui-shu Lee, professor of Chinese art history at UCLA, reflects on two recipients of the Pritzker Architecture Prize—I. M. Pei and Wang Shu—and their instrumental reinterpretations of Chinese garden design. Listen

Photo of saffron flower

Border-Crossing Botanicals: The Curious History of Saffron in Japan
Susan Burns, professor of history at the University of Chicago, explores the incorporation of saffron into Japanese pharmacology. Listen

Ted Matson trimming a bonsai

What Bonsai Can Teach Us About Patience
To help grapple with the frustrations of coronavirus stay-at-home orders, the Hear and Now at The Huntington podcast dives deep into the practice of bonsai for a lesson in patience, the concept of time, and respect for the pace of nature. Listen