“Bouquets to Art” is a popular annual fundraiser exhibition presented inside the prestigious De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.
The de Young Museum, a handsome, copper-clad building designed by the award-winning Swiss architects, Herzog and de Meuron in collaboration with acclaimed San Francisco architects Fong & Chan, opened in 2005. Inside are significant collections of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 17th to the 21st Century, the Africa and Oceanic Galleries, costume and textile arts, and international, modern, and contemporary art.
In addition to the scheduled exhibitions, the de Young has programs and events throughout the year: among the most popular is “Bouquets to Art.” Here, floral designers are invited to interpret an artwork as a floral design. After a hiatus of a couple of years due to the pandemic, San Francisco welcomed back the sorely missed and eagerly anticipated display — and was hardly disappointed. This is ” perennial” de Young event that always sells out due to the high demand and as expected, tickets sold out within a few days of going on sale. This year, it was even available online for those uncomfortable with an in-person attendance.
WHAT IS “BOUQUETS TO ART”?
Bouquet to Art is presented by the San Francisco Auxiliary of the Fine Arts Museums. It is a charitable event and has raised $7.5 million dollars to underwrite exhibitions, conservation projects, and education programs at the Museums.
Now in its 38th year, “Bouquets to Art” is the Museum’s longest-running fundraiser. The weeklong viewing also features an Opening Preview, a luxury raffle, in-person programs, and luncheons throughout the week.
During the event, the Museum is taken over in a celebration of art and flowers: a select group of floral designers is invited to interpret a particular artwork by creating a floral design reflecting what they see. More than one hundred carefully selected floral designers are invited to participate; acceptance is a true recognition of their talent and a great honor.
CREATING THE FLORAL DESIGNS.
Floral arrangements aside, it is essential to keep the valuable museum collections safe: to do this, the designers are given a set of guidelines in which restrictions are given that relate to height, and size, as well as guidelines for materials and containers that are permitted. No food items are allowed, as this could attract pests and endanger the art.
But outside these guidelines, designers have free will to use their creative juices to produce their most imaginative works — and they do!
The range of materials used is diverse, including seeds, grasses, and other dried materials as well as fresh flowers and fruit.
To protect the art collections, floral designers are asked to prepare as much of their bouquet as they can outside the museum. The Monday before the exhibition opens to the public, they gain entry early in the morning and proceed to their chosen work to finish designing and building their bouquet in situ. Everything has to be finished and the area cleaned in time for the evening gala.
Using organic material is not only an aesthetic challenge for the designers to create displays that are attention-grabbing but a logistical one. Displays must remain fresh throughout the exhibition and designers are only permitted to come in each day before the exhibition opens to fill up the vases with water or replace any blooms that look faded.
That’s six days of viewing from the opening gala and fundraiser on Monday evening to the final night the following Sunday.
Extending throughout the entire Museum, the experience is fascinating in how floral artists interpret the art in creative and inspiring ways.
EXHIBITION IN THE LADIES RESTROOMS.
Even the ladies ‘ bathrooms had their own unique exhibition, showing miniature arrangements of insects that rivaled the much larger designs throughout the museum’s galleries. These had been arranged by the museum’s flower committee and excelled in detail and interpretation — and were further enhanced by repetitive reflections in the mirror.
A little-known fact: the flower committee also creates new floral arrangements every week in all museum restrooms throughout the year!
Considering the number of people involved, the exhibition surely requires the organization of a small military operation.