Tyler Arboretum Celebrates 75th Anniversary with Exhibition “Gateway to Nature”

It will be on display from May 11 – Sept. 2.



Vanny Channal's American Steel Eagle (left) and Susan Benarcik's Conditioned to See. Photos courtesy of Vanny Channal and Tyler Arboretum.

A Media icon, the Tyler Arboretum’s roots date back to the 1600s, when English Quaker Thomas Minshall purchased it from William Penn. For over 200 years, the land served as the summer residence and working farm of the Minshall and Tyler families. In 1944, Laura Tyler, a descendent of Minshall, entrusted the land so that it could become an arboretum. This May marks the 75th anniversary of that change from private to public. To celebrate, the 650-acre landmark, which houses plant collections and historic trees, plus 17 miles of hiking trails, will host a special exhibition called “Gateway to Nature,” featuring sculptures from local artists.  

The exhibition, which will debut on May 11 and be on display through Sept. 2, highlights the works of 13 regional artists from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, many working in reclaimed materials like steel, wood, and masonry. Installations, which include a wind tunnel, will be situated throughout the grounds and work to challenge preconceived notions or art, while encouraging thought on how every individual impacts the environment.

Among the artists is Media’s Parris Bradley, who created a gateway called “Washing Nature.” The Villanova University Theatre Department production manager has designed other exhibits for the arboretum previously, including the first wheelchair accessible Tulip Tree House and the Troll Bridge. Working with reclaimed washing machine drums that would have otherwise been sent to landfills, Bradley’s newest installation is a whimsical structure that leads visitors to the rhododendron garden.

Vanny Channal's Buck of Steel sculpture at Tyler Arboretum. Karen Delaney's Grand Arch sculpture at Tyler Arboretum

Vanny Channal's Buck of Steel.

Karen Delaney's Grand Arch.

“It’s the irony of taking waste from consumerism and repurposing it as art that is cleaning the air,” says Bradley. The structure is made out of 17 washing machine drums and is filled with native plants.

Another artist, Vanny Channal, will make his Tyler Arboretum debut with three sculptures made of repurposed steel. Channal began his career as a welder. As the child of Cambodian immigrants in a poor area of Long Beach, Calif., Channal understood what it felt like to be rejected.


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When he began working with these materials by trade, Channal says he developed a bond with them and worked to create beauty out of something that had been discarded. “I want to change people’s perspective on how they see these materials and how they see themselves,” he says. His installations are all nature themed, taking the shape of a buck, preying mantis and an eagle.

Tyler Arboretum will host guided tours of the exhibition on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer. Maps for self-guided tours will also be available.

515 Painter Rd., Media, (610) 566-9134.