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“Rainforest Masks of Costa Rica” Returns to Selby Gardens

18th Annual Exhibition and Sale Run January 8 to 30 in Museum of Botany & the Arts; Special Ticketed Preview on January 7 Offers Early Access to Show and Sale

SARASOTA, Fla., December 30, 2021 – For the 18th consecutive year, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens will exhibit Rainforest Masks of Costa Rica in the Museum of Botany & the Arts at its Downtown Sarasota campus.

The exhibition and sale showcase artists from the Indigenous Boruca tribe of southwestern Costa Rica, where traditional mask making is a way of life closely tied to communal history and cultural identity. Visitors will experience hundreds of vibrant, hand-carved and painted balsa wood masks featuring the stunning flora and fauna of the tropical rainforest.

“As travel is still limited for many due to the pandemic, this exhibition is an opportunity for guests to immerse themselves in the rich history and beauty of another culture and to support the artists who live in a remote area of Costa Rica without leaving Sarasota,” said Kelsie Childs, registrar and manager of museum exhibitions at Selby Gardens. “We are so grateful to the Borucan artist community for this partnership and for continuing to entrust Selby Gardens with their artwork.”

The Rainforest Masks exhibition will feature more than 300 colorful masks, many of which range from 10 to 14 inches in height. This year’s exhibition also spotlights the Borucan tradition of textile making. Borucan weavers use natural resources such as leaves and plant seeds to dye their cotton material, which presents the Museum with an opportunity to include several dried plant specimens found in the region from the Selby Gardens Herbarium within this year’s display.

Special events surrounding the exhibition include:

Ticketed Preview of Exhibition – January 7

On Friday, January 7, visitors have two options to preview the show and participate in the mask sale before it opens to the general public. Capacity is limited, and pre-purchased tickets are required. Preview tickets are available online at


Early Admission: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

$55 for Selby Gardens members, $60 for non-members


Regular Admission: 2 – 6 p.m.

$25 for Selby Gardens members, $30 for non-members


Opening Weekend “Pop-Up Shop” – January 8 and 9

Throughout the exhibition’s opening weekend, a pop-up shop in the Museum of Botany & the Arts will offer smaller handmade items such as earrings, necklaces, and small masks for sale.


For the Borucan artists, mask making is a collaborative process between carvers and painters. The carver sketches a design onto a prepared balsa log, which is then intricately carved. Next, the carved mask is painted with vibrant colors and bold patterns. Each mask combines imagery drawn from nature and the artists’ own imaginations. “The result is an artistic expression unlike any other,” said Childs.

The exhibition also highlights the Borucan community’s efforts to conserve their natural environment for future generations. As an Indigenous community, the Borucan people are linked to their land, according to Allesandra Bravo of Lucuma Designs, Selby Gardens’ partner in the exhibition. The economic gain the art form has brought to the village has allowed former farmland to regrow naturally, bringing more biodiversity to the area. “The art of mask making is part of the Borucans’ cultural identity,” said Bravo. “Each piece of art is a vehicle to share their story.”

Aside from January 7 preview event, access to the Rainforest Masks of Costa Rica is included with general admission to Selby Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus. Proceeds from mask sales provide financial support to the Borucan village and also benefit Selby Gardens’ education, research, horticulture, and scientific work.

Visit to purchase tickets for the preview event or general admission to the Gardens



High-resolution images of several of this year’s masks and portraits of Borucan artists may be downloaded here:

For additional information and artist testimonial quotes about each mask, contact

For video of a Borucan artist at work, go here:


About Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens provides 45 acres of bayfront sanctuaries connecting people with air plants of the world, native nature, and our regional history. Established by forward-thinking women of their time, Selby Gardens is composed of the 15-acre Downtown Sarasota campus and the 30-acre Historic Spanish Point campus in the Osprey area of Sarasota County, Florida. The Downtown Campus on Sarasota Bay is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of epiphytic orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns, and other tropical plants. There is a significant focus on botany, horticulture, education, historical preservation, and the environment. The Historic Spanish Point Campus is located less than 10 miles south along Little Sarasota Bay. One of the largest preserves showcasing native Florida plants that is interpreted for and open to the public, it celebrates an archaeological record that encompasses approximately 5,000 years of Florida history. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a Smithsonian Affiliate and is also accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. For more information visit