Exterior view of a paper tree with green paper leaves taped to a window, a boy reaches to hang a white tag on one branch

Create a “wish tree” to share with your family, friends, and neighbors.

We want to see your creations! Share on social media @hirshhorn with #HirshhornInsideOut and #WishTreeForTheWorld.

Time: 20–30 minutes
Skill Level: Beginner
Topic: Hope


LOOK CLOSELY

Man in profile wearing a baseball cap reaches to tie a white tag on a leafy green tree.

Yoko Ono, “Wish Tree for Washington,” 2007. Installed at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Photo by Jazmine Johnson.

What do you see? You probably noticed branches of a tree with green, heart-shaped leaves, and a man. You might have wondered why white tags are dangling from the branches, or what the man is doing.

This is the Wish Tree for Washington. It is part of a larger project by artist Yoko Ono. Many different places around the world have one of Ono’s Wish Trees, including this one at the Hirshhorn Museum. The artist asks people to write their wishes on small white tags and tie them onto the tree. All the wishes are later “harvested” from the tree and sent to a Wishing Well at Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland. Want to hear more? Listen to Yoko Ono talk about Wish Tree for Washington here.

The artist in profile wearing a black hat and silver jacket hangs a tag on a bare tree

Yoko Ono ties a wish on Wish Tree for Washingon, Photo courtesy of the artist

“As a child in Japan, I used to go to a temple and write out a wish on a piece of thin paper and tie it around the branch of a tree. Trees in temple courtyards were always filled with people’s wish knots, which looked like white flowers blossoming from afar.”

Yoko Ono: ‘All My Works Are A Form Of Wishing’
Yoko Ono was born in 1933 in Japan. She is known for her experimental performances and art projects. Her works are often focused on important topics such as women’s rights, human rights, and peace.


MAKE IT!

  1. Talk together. What is a wish? A wish is something we hope for. What do you wish for? You might wish for real things, like toys or games. You might wish for something silly, like becoming your favorite superhero or book character. You might wish for a changed situation, like getting to spend time with a favorite friend again. You might even make a wish for other people, such as health or world peace.
  2. Write or draw your wishes on scraps of paper. Children who are just learning to write can draw a picture of their wish and have an adult write down their words on the paper
    Two small pieces of white paper lying on a newspaper, one with writing in pencil, a hand uses a red marker to write on the other
  3. Choose the Wish Tree project that works best for you. Depending on where you live, you might hang your wishes from a tree in your yard, draw a chalk wish tree on your driveway, or make a paper tree for an outward facing window or door. For this featured  project, we made a large paper tree for a front door.
    • Gather your materials. You’ll need paper, scissors, and tape. Any paper including newspaper, old cards, scraps of old art projects, or construction paper will work for this project.
      Newspapers, pair of scissors, pencil, crayons, masking tape, green construction paper, cards, and watercolor paintings of trees
    • Cut your trunk and branches, then tape to your window or door.
      Hand holds a large piece of brown paper while other hand uses a pair of scissors to cut the paper along a line drawn in pencil
    • Cut your leaves and other features. For our project, we also cut out some helicopter seeds to make it look like they were dropping and spinning through the air.
      Hands rest on a square piece of green paper with a newspaper underneath, drawing on the green paper with pencil
    • Tape your leaves and wishes to the branches. Face them outwards so your neighbors and delivery people can see them.
      Exterior view of a paper tree with green paper leaves taped on a window, a boy reaches to add to the tree
    • Invite friends to add theirs. You might have an adult send an email or text message to collect the wishes of friends and neighbors, and then you can write and add them to your tree. Or, you might invite friends to write them and add them on their own!
    • Share your tree with the world! Take a photograph of your wish tree and share on social media #hirshhorninsideout and #wishtreefortheworld.

We missed you

Share your best Hirshhorn memories with #Hirshhorn. Let’s reunite and make more. Our Museum building is open, Wed-Sun, with a few twists — see what’s new!