Noted author and Chinese scholar Stephen L. Koss will discuss his latest work, Beautiful Su: A Social and Cultural History of Suzhou, China, on Saturday, May 14 at 2 PM in the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden. In his new book, the author paints a vivid picture of how important Suzhou is to the Chinese nation and its people. The lecture will include questions and answers, book signing and refreshments. Admission is $10. Please register at

New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden (Photo: Michael Falco)


“There is no more appropriate setting for this lecture than our own Scholar’s Garden which was patterned after the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) gardens in Suzhou,” pointed out Snug Harbor CEO Lynn Kelly. “In fact the components and materials for our garden came from Suzhou and were fabricated by artisans and craftsmen who worked on campus and lived here at Snug Harbor during its completion in 1999.”


Beautiful Su traces the rise of Suzhou as a major cultural and trading center through more than 2,500 years of Chinese history. The City’s natural beauty, magnificent gardens, and rich history have captivated the attention of poets, scholars, statesmen and travelers for centuries. It was the imperial empire’s Paris, with a touch of Florence’s artistic flourish, Venice’s canal-laced charm, Heidelberg’s academic achievement and Amsterdam’s commercial dynamism. Stephen Koss, who lived in Suzhou for about five years, does an excellent job of depicting its landscape, people, culture and history with the acumen of a native.
In addition to this lecture program, Snug Harbor will host Twilight Tours on Thursday, May 19 and Thursday, June 16, when visitors can experience the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden at its most magical hours from 6 PM to 8 PM, when light dances through the windows and shadows play across the walls. Participants will see the garden come to life with a burst of brilliant but fleeting color. Docents will be available to provide tours and answer questions. Admission for each of these extended tours is free. Please visit for more information.
Snug Harbor’s docent Chinese experts are Dr. Ronald Altman and Nicholas Van Eyck. Dr. Altman, a local dentist, has pursued his passion for Chinese culture for many years. He has studied with a bonsai master since the 1970s and has first-hand knowledge of Penjing, the ancient Chinese art of depicting artistically formed trees, plants and landscapes in miniature. He has traveled extensively in Asia and has accumulated a wealth of knowledge about Chinese and Japanese gardens. A long-time board member of Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, he is also a founding member of the Friends of the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden and was instrumental in the development of its design. Today, Dr. Altman is active in the daily maintenance of the Garden’s structures, plants and trees. Sinophile Nicholas Van Eyck has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Linguistics and Chinese and a Certificate in Asian Studies for the University of Wisconsin. He was awarded the 2008 Wisconsin Association for Language Teachers Certificate for Excellence. Fluent in Mandarin, Van Eyck has travelled extensively throughout Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China.
About Snug Harbor
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is one of the largest ongoing adaptive reuse projects in America. It consists of 26 historical buildings, numerous distinctive botanical gardens and 10 acres of wetlands on a unique 83-acre campus. Formerly Sailors’ Snug Harbor, a home for retired sailors built in the 1800s, Snug Harbor is now a distinguished arts center where history, architecture, visual and performing arts, environmental science, agriculture and horticulture provide dynamic experiences for all ages. Snug Harbor is also home to the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, the Noble Maritime Collection, Staten Island Children’s Museum and the Staten Island Museum. Snug Harbor is a proud Smithsonian Affiliate.