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Finding Common Ground Through the Beauty of Nature

Brazilian Visitors from Inhotim

The Adriana Varejão Gallery at Inhotim. Photo by Rossana Magri.

The Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden partners with institutions around the world that share our organization’s vision – to be a leading global voice for cultural understanding, in pursuit of a more peaceful, sustainable world. The goal of these partnerships is to build global relationships, exchange and explore ideas critical to modern life, evolve theory and practice in their respective fields, and collaborate to implement the ideals of Japanese gardens, arts, and culture in varied and meaningful ways for communities around the world.

Visitors from Inhotim take a tour of the garden spaces with Portland Japanese Garden Chief Curator, Sadafumi Uchiyama. Photo by Nina Johnson.

Inhotim, a contemporary art museum and botanical garden in Brazil is one such institution. Portland Japanese Garden leadership recently had a chance to host three representatives from Inhotim, as part of their visit to Portland for the American Public Gardens Association’s annual conference in June. The visit was an opportunity to learn more about each other in preparation for our third Peace Symposium in São Paulo, currently scheduled for the summer of 2023, and will be in collaboration with Inhotim.

The Japan Institute and Inhotim’s friendship first began in 2019 when Inhotim executive manager, Felipe Paz, met Portland Japanese Garden CEO, Steve Bloom, through an arranged meeting by Tulio Andrade, cultural attache to the Brazilian Embassy in Tokyo. Bloom visited Inhotim not too long after and came away deeply impressed with what he saw – a remarkable organization, made even more so by the fact that Inhotim has only been open to the public since 2006. Their drive to create transformational experiences through the intersection of art, nature, and science was exactly what the Garden was seeking in a partner.
Photo by Nina Johnson.

Sweeping over 345 acres in Brazil’s state of Minas Gerais, Inhotim is situated in the natural splendor of a land where the lush Atlantic Forest meets the tropical savanna of the Cerrado. 700 works by 60 artists from 40 different nations are displayed both outdoors and in 23 buildings of a wide variety of architectural styles. Joining this captivating art created by human hands is the art created by nature—a tropical botanical garden with more than 4,000 plant species are in Inhotim’s collection, including more than 1,000 different palm tree species.

The Japan Institute will hold six Peace Symposia on six continents over the course of three years, the first being in Tokyo, Japan on September 21, 2022. The symposium keynotes will explore the interplay between and convergence of landscapes, architecture, and arts in shaping new civic conversations and efforts for peace-building through cultural diplomacy. When summer 2023 approaches, the Japan Institute will share more information on the symposium in Brazil, so stay tuned!

The Peace Symposium, “Peacemaking at the Intersection of Culture, Art, and Nature,” is supported in part by a generous donation by Robert and Debb Zagunis.