On wheels center will welcome visitors and provide multilingual education about trees and plants

Civic and elected leaders joined the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University on October 29 to celebrate the launch of the Arboretum’s new Mobile Visitor Center, an exciting new chapter in welcoming visitors and promoting connections with the natural world ahead of the Arboretum’s 150th anniversary in 2022.

Improving the sense of arrival across the Arboretum’s 281 acres, the Mobile Visitor Center will serve as a platform for multilingual education about trees and plants. Its portability will allow for Arboretum staff to better engage residents at Arboretum entrances in Jamaica Plain and Roslindale as well as passersby from the dozens of bus and train lines that operate adjacent to the landscape in Jamaica Plain.

Speakers at the dedication event for the Arboretum’s new Mobile Visitor Center on October 29 included (left to right) Boston City Council President Pro Tempore Matt O’Malley, Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, Arboretum Director Ned Friedman, chair of the Sesquicentennial Host Committee Gwill York, and Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space for the City of Boston Reverend Mariama White-Hammond.

“The Arboretum is free and open to all, and we remain committed to doing everything we can to make it feel welcoming to all,” said William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum and Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. “In an era of pandemic and amid the ongoing need to advance environmental justice, access to the Arboretum has become an imperative for public health and well-being. Our Mobile Visitor Center will soon become a familiar resource throughout our landscape and at entrances that connect to multiple neighborhoods in Boston.”

The Mobile Visitor Center comes on the heels of other efforts to promote a welcoming landscape including the launch of a multilingual app, Expeditions, new partnerships with the Boston Public Schools, and ongoing free programming both online and in the landscape.

The Mobile Visitor Center was made possible through the generous support of Gwill York, Chair of the Arboretum’s Sesquicentennial Host Committee.

“The Mobile Visitor Center will create countless new opportunities to inspire Arboretum neighbors and guests of all ages to notice, enjoy, and cherish its landscape through all of its entrances,” said York. “The Arboretum has long been a place to take a break from city life. Its work forging relationships between people and the global natural world has never been more important as trees and plants and all of us are threatened from drought, floods, and heat.”

“The past year and a half has given us all a new appreciation for parks and open spaces as they were the one place we could go during quarantine periods to get some mental wellness,” said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space for the City of Boston. “The Arboretum is a space to learn about and connect with the natural world. I am excited that more residents will be able to engage with the crucial work of Boston’s tree canopy.”

“A Boston gem and remarkable open space, the Arnold Arboretum has been an oasis for our city’s residents and visitors, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Council President Pro Tempore and Chair of the Council’s Committee on Environment, Resiliency and Parks Matt O’Malley. “The Mobile Visitor Center will serve as an incredible resource to deepen learning and engagement with the Arboretum’s comprehensive collections of trees and plants.”

“The new Mobile Visitor Center is a great resource for those who take advantage of the Arboretum’s great location and resources,” said State Senator Mike Rush. “I encourage everyone to visit this outdoor crown jewel in of the city of Boston.”