Portland,  August 1st. The Portland Japanese Garden announced the largest gift in its history, a $1,000,000 endowment donation from The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation to establish The Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art & Education. (Arlene is pictured in the Japanese Garden in 2010 with her late husband. Harold Schnitzer, the Portland real estate and philanthropic powerhouse, died in 2011  from complications related to cancer and diabetes. He was 87.)

“As a citizen of Oregon it is important to me to ensure the longevity of Portland’s prestigious Japanese Garden, which is considered to be one of the finest examples in the world outside of Japan,” says Arlene Schnitzer. “I am thrilled, along with the other trustees, to help maintain the Garden’s celebrated status by granting a significant gift to their upcoming expansion capital campaign.”

The gift fulfills one-third of the $3 million goal for endowment support needed toward the Garden’s planned expansion. The endowment will help fund the permanent curatorial position at the Garden that develops and oversees cultural, art, and education programs. The Portland Japanese Garden will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2013.

This series of programs was launched in 2007 under the leadership of Diane Durston, who will now be named the The Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art & Education. New and enhanced programs presented at the Garden over the past five years include annual public lectures by nationally and internationally known speakers, authentic Japanese cultural festivals, the annual Art in the Garden exhibition series, and new programs for teachers and underserved school children. The goal of these programmatic advances is to bring new audiences to the Garden, enhance the visitor experience, and raise awareness of the broader cultural context in which Japanese gardens evolved.

Speakers in the Garden’s lecture series have included world-class experts in Japanese gardens and related fields such as Hoichi Kurisu, Shiro Nakane, and Marc Peter Keane. The groundbreaking Parallel Worlds: Art of the Ainu of Hokkaido and Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest drew more than 26,000 visitors to the Garden in June 2009. Other exhibitions have included internationally recognized artists in the field of traditional and contemporary Japanese arts including sculpture, prints, bonsai, and more.

“The creation of this endowment will support the Garden’s efforts to be a world leader in the field of Japanese gardens and culture,” says Steve Bloom, CEO of the Portland Japanese Garden. “The gift is a significant endorsement for the important work of the organization and the planned expansion project. We are fortunate to be the recipient of Arlene’s inspiring generosity.”

The Portland Japanese Garden is in the process of planning for an expansion designed to preserve and enhance the tranquility of the existing Garden, respond to increased visitor numbers, and take advantage of opportunities in the areas of education, environmental sustainability, revenue generation through visitor amenities, and enhancing visitor and member services.

Arlene Schnitzer and her family have a long history with the Garden. She and her late husband, Harold Schnitzer, made a significant gift to the Garden’s renovation of the iconic Zig Zag Bridge in 2010. Arlene’s sister-in-law Mildred Schnitzer was a founding board member of the Garden, her son Jordan Schnitzer is a past president of the Board of Directors, and her nephew Alan Davis is currently on the Garden’s Board of Directors. Arlene is also an active member of the Garden’s Golden Crane Society and its International Advisory Board.

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About the Portland Japanese Garden:

The Portland Japanese Garden is the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan. Situated on more than 5 acres nestled in the scenic west hills of Portland, the Garden features five traditional garden styles. The Garden is located above Washington Park at 611 SW Kingston Ave. in SW Portland, Oregon and is open daily except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Visit the Garden online at www.japanesegarden.com. 

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