In 1728 when he was 29 years old, John Bartram (1699?777), a third generation Pennsylvania Quaker, bought a 102-acre site in the Philadelphia environs and started developing it into an arboretum that became known as Bartram's Garden. He began sending seeds and plants to Peter Collinson, a London merchant, and many others after that, in wooden boxes he designed for the trans-Atlantic voyages. When a severe storm felled trees in the historic Garden in 2010, The Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia challenged artists across the world to create works from the wood that expressed the botanist's voice and dedication. Forty artists responded with diverse projects that keep Bartram's spirit alive and celebrate nature, science, and design.
The Center for Art in Wood is a nonprofit arts and educational institution that, at its Old City Philadelphia location, features international contemporary art made from wood in changing exhibits, a museum collection showing the breadth of art created from wood and a research library. Incorporated in 1986, the Center has staged the annual Windgate ITE International Residency Program since 1995 for artists, photojournalists and scholars.