Queens Botanical Garden Announces $8 Million Gift, Largest Private Donation to Date
January 10, 2023 – Queens Botanical Garden (QBG) is thrilled to announce a transformative $8 million gift from The Joan N. and Norman Bluestone Foundation. In recognition of this historic donation, the largest private donation to the Garden and one of the largest ever to a Queens cultural institution, QBG will name its future education building after the Foundation’s founders.
The Joan N. and Norman Bluestone Foundation was formed in 2002 with the purpose of fostering the education of disadvantaged children and young adults in the New York Metropolitan area. Queens Botanical Garden, with its many educational programs, exemplifies that mission in the heart of Queens, which was always the home to the Foundation originators, Joan and Norman Bluestone. Joan was a longtime volunteer and donor at the Garden and served on its Board of Directors for many years. Joan passed away in 2020. Norman was a founding member of The Bluestone Organization, a Queens-based real estate company, along with his two brothers, Harold and Eli. Norman passed away in 2011. Joan and Norman frequented the Garden often and, in recognizing its potential to impact youth, they expressed their desire to memorialize their love of QBG by contributing to its future in a meaningful way.
“We are so pleased to make this significant donation and having the Education Building bear Joan and Norman’s names,” said Sara B. Herbstman, President of the Joan N. and Norman Bluestone Foundation. “We couldn’t think of a better way to honor their memory.”
In addition to providing outstanding botanical collections for over 272,000 visitors annually, QBG offers cultural programming, public events, and free to low-cost environmental education programs for New York City schoolchildren. Within the next year, QBG anticipates breaking ground on a city-funded, state-of-the-art education building, which will expand its capacity to serve the public. The $8 million gift from the Foundation will allow QBG to develop, pilot, launch, and sustain an expanded number of innovative environmental education programs as well as other enriching activities for the community at large.
“Those of us who know the Garden understand that it is a critical resource for the community,” said Evie Hantzopoulos, Queens Botanical Garden Executive Director. “A gift of this magnitude not only recognizes all that the Garden offers; it also validates the direction it is taking to expand its capacity, programming, and role as a leading cultural institution in New York City. We are deeply grateful to the Foundation for their generosity.”
“I’m thrilled the Queens Botanical Garden, one of our borough’s crown jewels, has received a historic $8 million gift courtesy of The Joan N. and Norman Bluestone Foundation, which will help them create fresh, environmentally-centered programming within its upcoming state-of-the-art education center,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “With this donation, and our collective investment in the Garden, we give them the tools to continue to cultivate the minds and spirits of the hundreds of thousands of visitors it welcomes every year.”
“Queens Botanical Garden is a vital community institution that benefits New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “QBG provides a tranquil environment for residents to relax, hosts free public events, and offers educational programs for students and visitors across the city. The Council is proud to support Queens Botanical Garden through critical investments, including funding for the new Education Center. With the generous donation of $8 million from The Joan N. and Norman Bluestone Foundation, communities throughout our city will benefit from new initiatives and programs. This contribution will have a lasting impact for generations to come, and I thank the foundation for their historic and meaningful donation.”
“Our community is enriched by the Queens Botanical Garden and the staff who work tirelessly to make sure it remains a place of conservation, exploration, and learning,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. “This latest investment will support the programs and operations of the new Education Center and will help provide enhanced environmental education experiences for all New Yorkers.”
“Queens Botanical Garden is a green oasis offering education, culture, and tranquility in the heart of this diverse, bustling borough,” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “A huge congratulations to QBG on this historic gift from The Joan N. and Norman Bluestone Foundation which, in conjunction with DCLA’s support, will invest in their new education building and other critical garden needs to help ensure a bright (and green!) future for QBG.”
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am deeply grateful to the Joan N. and Norman Bluestone Foundation for this transformative gift,” said Raymond Jasen, Chair of Queens Botanical Garden Board of Trustees. “It demonstrates a deep commitment to the future of New York City schoolchildren as well as a belief that the Garden is capable of stewarding such a generous donation to fulfill its mission.”
About QBG’s Future Education Center
The future Center’s innovative design will add four classrooms, a teaching kitchen, an education solarium, a green roof, and ample space for indoor and outdoor programming, creating countless new learning opportunities. The new state-of-the-art Education Center will help double the number of students and visitors the Garden will reach per year. That means more teaching, more learning, and more connecting with nature.
About Queens Botanical Garden
Queens Botanical Garden (QBG) is an urban oasis where people, plants, and cultures are celebrated through inspiring gardens, innovative educational programs, and real-world applications of environmental stewardship.
QBG is located on 39 acres owned by the City of New York at the northeast corner of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. QBG evolved from the five-acre “Gardens on Parade” exhibit showcased at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair and remained at the original World’s Fair site until 1961, when it was moved to its current location on Main Street in Flushing.
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