Spring is beautiful in the Tucson desert, bursting onto the scene with a sudden rush of color. In a region recognized for its thick-skinned succulents and fiercely sharp cacti, the seasonal wave of wildflowers offers a softness to our dry heat that locals look forward to with great anticipation - and it is a sight capable of knocking the socks off of any unsuspecting tourist. This year’s seasonal change has been a sigh of relief for many gardeners, who watched in anguish as the bitter frosts claimed many of even the hardiest native plants. Now, Tucson nurseries are bustling with green thumbs and brown thumbs alike, everyone eager to partake in the grand weather and range of desert blooms. With everyone so in tune to the hum of bees, perhaps it is no wonder that we see our own museum’s Enchanted Tree with refreshed eyes. Although our magical Tree is impervious to seasonal change, as a symbol of nature’s allure it unquestionably excels. Featured prominently on our Visitor Guide and in many museum ads, it has become an icon to our visitors, eagerly sought out by children and the young-at-heart.
The Tree’s uniqueness is multi-fold, with features that are both functional and delightful. As an ambassador to the Enchanted Realm, it greets our visitors with three principal faces: one with a beaming summer smile; another with a spooky scowl; and one face with a snowy beard and brows, heralding winter’s chill. Each face points the visitor in the direction of a different aspect of the gallery, whether it is the haunted mansions of Halloween, the frosty delight of winter holidays, or the abundance of whimsy and fairy lore. The careful observer can spot even more faces hidden among the Tree’s roots, reminding us that magic is lurking around every corner. In this way, the Tree became the answer to a fundamental design challenge: how to display such a diverse range of pieces in one space? To solve the riddle, the Tree became the unifying element, drawing all of the fantastical rudiments together into a cohesive, central theme. Not only does the Tree give a steady balance to the varied artifacts, but it does so without detracting from any one in particular – and it stands alone as a beautiful addition to the gallery, itself. Click here to continue reading a pdf of this article >>