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Rainforest Masks of Costa Rica Returns Jan. 6

Hundreds of Hand-Carved and Painted Balsa-Wood Masks by the Indigenous Boruca Tribe
Will Be on Display and Available for Purchase in the Museum of Botany & the Arts

December 20, 2023 | Sarasota, FL – The popular Rainforest Masks of Costa Rica exhibition will return to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus from January 6 to 21, 2024.

Highlighting the traditional art of the Indigenous Boruca tribe of the Costa Rican rainforest, the show will feature hundreds of colorful masks on display in the Museum of Botany & the Arts and available for purchase by visitors. A limited-capacity preview on January 5 will give ticketholders the first opportunity to view and purchase the artworks in the 2024 exhibition.

“We are delighted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Rainforest Masks at Selby Gardens,” said Jennifer Rominiecki, president and CEO of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.  “The brilliant masks exhibited annually are highly anticipated and sought after, and we are thrilled to showcase the beautiful works created by the Boruca Tribe.”

The much-anticipated annual Rainforest Masks show is a collaboration between Selby Gardens and Lucuma Designs, a Sarasota-based wholesale fair-trade partner that represents artists and artist cooperatives in Costa Rica and Peru. The exhibition will run from Saturday, January 6, through Sunday, January 21. Access is included with general admission to Selby Gardens. A special ticketed preview event will take place on Friday, January 5, during which ticketholders will have the chance to see and purchase their favorite masks before the show opens to the public. Tickets for this limited-access preview will be available for purchase on the Selby Gardens website at starting on December 19. Please note that purchased masks will remain on display for the duration of the exhibition and can be claimed on designated pick-up days in late January.

The cultural practice of mask-making honors the heritage of the Borucan people and reflects the strong connection they maintain with the natural environment in their remote, mountainous area of southwestern Costa Rica. The Boruca tribe tells the story that its ancestors fended off Spanish colonizers in the 1500s by wearing traditional warrior masks decorated to represent animal and nature spirits, which scared away the conquistadors, enabling the tribe to keep its village and identity intact. Today, many of the villagers continue the tradition of making hand-carved and painted masks, with a growing focus on environmental sustainability in their work.

This year’s exhibition will highlight the history and tradition of Borucan mask-making, as well as celebrate the 20th anniversary of displaying masks at Selby Gardens. Since it was first launched in 2004, this popular annual event at Selby Gardens has brought the beauty of a unique artform to a wider audience, while also empowering the artists to earn income from mask sales that helps support their village and their growing conservation efforts.  Proceeds from mask sales support the Borucan village and also benefit Selby Gardens’ education, research, horticulture, and scientific work.