Volunteer Park Conservatory temporarily closes

Seattle Parks and Recreation will close the Volunteer Park Conservatory on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 through Wednesday November 11, 2015. Seattle Parks and Recreation is replacing the existing 21 year old heating and venting controls.  The new controls will greatly improve operation and energy efficiency at the Conservatory. The Volunteer Park Conservatory is located in Volunteer Park at 1400 E. Galer St. on Capitol Hill.

In 2014, the Conservatory underwent a $3 million capital improvement project. The project replaced the aging wood glazing system and reinforced the iron structural framework in the Seasonal and Cactus houses of the century-old Victorian-inspired building. In addition, the project replaced a 1920s-era production greenhouse with a modern 1,550-square-foot multi-purpose grow facility, which will increase production space and provide an area for educational classes and workshops.

For more information please contact Kelly Gould of Seattle Parks and Recreation is the project manager at Kelly.goold@seattle.gov or 206-684-0586.






Young artists find inspiration in the Conservatory

Northwest African American Museum Youth Curators with Volunteer Park Conservatory Senior Gardener Bridget Lamp

Seattle’s park system has served as a muse to many artists. It’s not uncommon to see paintings of the Green Lake path or photos taken from Kerry Park. The Volunteer Park Conservatory is another perfect place to find inspiration, and that’s exactly where 10 youth curators found it this year.

Youth curators tour the Volunteer Park Conservatory.

Each year, the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) hosts a 12-week Youth Curator program for teens ages 14-18. The goal of the program is to introduce youth to the philosophy and practices of museum work through creative, community-engaged projects on timeless and contemporary topics. The youth gain social skills, learn and understand new concepts and develop artistic expression.

This year’s participants created a museum exhibit, “Transparent, Translucent and Opaque,” that is a response to the natural world in both written word and glass art. A major component of the project was to gain inspiration from visits to the Volunteer Park Conservatory. The Youth Curator exhibit complements an upcoming NAAM installation by award-winning glass artist Debora Moore, Glass Orchidarium, showing May 16 – Nov. 9, 2015.

Since Moore’s exhibit will showcase sculpted glass orchids, Youth Curator Program Lead Stephanie Johnson-Toliver knew a trip to the Conservatory would inform the students’ creative process.

“I can’t say enough about the wonderful cooperation and interest from Volunteer Park Conservatory for NAAM Youth Curators,” Johnson-Toliver said. “I’m singing their praises. They helped round out the project to make it a huge success.”

Conservatory Senior Gardeners Bridget Lamp and David Helgeson were eager to support Johnson-Toliver’s request. Lamp led the students on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Conservatory’s Lower Greenhouse and allowed the students to examine its orchid collection up close. It was a unique experience since only a fraction of the collection is on display to the public at any one time.

After their visit, one of the students used plant biology descriptions provided by Lamp to create a story that received a standing ovation of NAAM’s gala on April 18.

The 2015 Northwest African American Museum Youth Curators

The Youth Curators also toured Chihuly Garden and Glass, spent time working with urban poet and writer Jordan Keith and visited Pratt Fine Arts Center where they created their final project, glass art tiles to be put on display.

Six of the tiles were auctioned off at NAAM’s gala and earned $30,000 for the museum.

“In early April I saw and heard the students’ finished pieces – both in glass and written word,” Lamp said. “I was struck by their stories about orchids, a wonderful mix of fantasy and the natural world. To my delight, it changed my perspective on the plants I work with every day. I now see birds, monkeys and babies as they did in these flowers. Though I only met the curators a couple of times; I am very proud of what they accomplished.”

The students’ work can be viewed at NAAM now through Nov. 9, 2015. For more information on the Youth Curator program, please visit http://www.naamnw.org/youth-curator/.

“It’s so important to have these strong community connections,” Johnson-Toliver said. “After the students visited the Conservatory, they just took off; it was like they went to another planet. They created meaningful stories and saw how their work could make a real impact.”

It’s spring in January inside the Conservatory

Volunteer Park Conservatory Cactus House

Oh, the weather outside is frightful. But the Palm House is so delightful. A balmy 72 degrees in fact.

The Volunteer Park Conservatory underwent a $3 million capital improvement project last year, and winter is a perfect time to check it out.

The renovation reinforced the iron structural framework in the Seasonal and Cactus houses of the century-old Victorian-inspired building. The improvements included expanding walkways and installing new exits to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADT) and adding event lighting.

New 1,550-square-foot multi-purpose grow facility at the Conservatory

The project also replaced a 1920s-era production greenhouse with a modern 1,550-square-foot multi-purpose grow facility to increase production space, and provide an area for educational classes and workshops.

The completed renovations mean Seattleites have a beautifully remodeled respite from the January rains. Within the five glass houses, you can find orchids, cacti, palm trees, carnivorous plants, and most importantly, heat.

This week, the Conservatory’s Seasonal House will fill with the new spring collection. Take a stroll through the greenhouse blooms and forget about the naked trees outside.

The Conservatory offers docent-guided tours of the houses and its plant collections by reservation. Tours last from 30-60 minutes and are free (minimum two weeks’ notice required). Call 206-322-4112 for more information.

Experience Magic After Dark in Volunteer Park Conservatory, Dec. 19

It’s one night only, and it’s happening tomorrow! The Volunteer Park Conservatory will be open from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. The Conservatory at night is a special kind of magic, especially when the holidays are near and the displays are in full majesty.

This Friday, Dec. 19, for one night only, you can experience the Conservatory’s spectacular holiday displays after dark. Come see the standard gauge Lionel No. 384E Conservatory Express chug its way through the Seasonal House accompanied by live music from local musician James Whetzel.  

As a special thank you, Friends of the Conservatory members will receive a 20% discount on all purchases in the Palm House Gift Shop. The shop has gifts for all ages including locally-sourced and handcrafted items such as tropical houseplants and succulents, decorative pots and containers, handcrafted jewelry, books, games, toys, soaps, lotions, original artwork, cards and postcards.

For more information, visit the Conservatory website.

A holiday in Volunteer Park

Public encouraged to join Volunteer Park Trust for the third annual holiday celebration with choral groups, 500 luminarias and treats

Performers at the 2013 Holiday in Volunteer Park
(Photo credit: Sean Sherman http://www.sshermanphoto.com/)

Thursday, Dec. 11, 6-8 p.m.

Where: On the main concourse of Volunteer Park from the water tower to the Conservatory

What: Come one, come all for a fun, festive, family celebration! Sing carols, watch and listen to lively performances from local groups (including The Beaconettes, Total Experience Gospel Choir, Seattle Academy Onions, Columbia City Community Chorus, The Mother Pluckers, Seatown Sound, Sing Noel and Edge Performing Arts and Dance), enjoy delicious complimentary treats and drinks and stroll paths lit by hundreds of luminarias. Admission to the Conservatory and Seattle Asian Art Museum will be free.

Who: This event is hosted by Volunteer Park Trust and sponsored by Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle Parks Foundation, The Friends of the Conservatory at Volunteer Park and Seattle Asian Art Museum.

For more information visitt: http://on.fb.me/1xg0xjN