Update: On Saturday, June 6, Future Sensations will offer extended hours from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The Benjamin Franklin Parkway is a Philadelphia cultural mecca — an epicenter of grand art museums, civic institutions and public spaces.
Now, there’s yet another draw to the Parkway: Future Sensations opens Saturday, May 30.
From May 30 through June 6, The Oval on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be home to Future Sensations, a brilliant immersive exhibition featuring five “ephemeral pavilions.”
The City of Brotherly Love is one of just four cities around the world and the only U.S. city to host this futuristic traveling exhibit, which celebrates the 350th anniversary of Philadelphia-based Saint-Gobain, a global building materials company founded in France in 1665 that’s been a part of developing such iconic sights as Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors and the Statue of Liberty.
For a whole week, Saturday, May 30 through Saturday, June 6, Saint-Gobain’s Future Sensations will take over the pop-up park on the Parkway with a totally free exhibition of five huge walk-through pavilions that give visitors a 3-D digital experience merging 21st-century technology with storytelling and visual arts.
In addition to the impressive pavilions, the installation will be accompanied by a daily pop-up beer garden and multiple food trucks — much like the scene Philadelphians flocked to at The Oval last summer.
Read on for your guide to the installation and make plans now to visit this impressive temporary attraction.
Five Immersive Digital Pavilions
From May 30 to June 6, Future Sensations will take over The Oval, the pop-up park on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, with five enormous 20- to 30-ton pavilions that offer visitors a live digital experience merging 21st-century technology with imaginative arts.
Through science, storytelling and art, each structure will offer a 3-D walk-through encounter that — get ready — will be completely free and open to the public.
Four of the pavilions — the Look, Listen, Color and Create pavilions — will also be seen in Shanghai, Sao Paulo and Paris, each providing a unique and engaging experience that changes during the day, at night and once visitors are inside each structure.
Visitors to the Philadelphia exhibit will have the added experience of a fifth pavilion designed just for this city that’s focused on understanding the vast array of technologies developed in North America, and invites visitors to contribute their own futuristic ideas.
A visit to the exhibition will take about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the crowds, and each pavilion offers up both a walk-through element and different visual exteriors by day and by night — so multiple visits are probably in order.
For more on Future Sensations, see below.
Score Free VIP Access For Opening Night
**UPDATE — The free Light Up the Parkway Party VIP passes are now sold out. Note: General admission is free and open to the public!**
Opening night arrives on Saturday, May 30 and registration is available for the Light Up the Parkway free kick-off celebration of Future Sensations at The Oval featuring the first chance to catch the installation after dark.
After a quick sell-out last week, an additional 500 VIP wristbands are available!
Light Up the Parkway partygoers will be among the first to witness the after-dark display, and anyone can register for a VIP wristband that includes priority line access to each of the five pavilions (less time in line!) and one free beer from Yards Brewing Company in the beer garden.
Plus, those who keep their wristbands on can return any time during the exhibition through June 6 and receive priority line access. The party is free to attend, but registration is required.
To join in the Light Up The Parkway Party, guests should simply register online for free tickets and head to The Oval on Saturday, May 30, 8-10 p.m.
Heads up: There are a limited number of tickets and those tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration will close on Friday, May 29 or once all 500 are sold out, so sign up now to ensure VIP access.
Those who register can pick-up the VIP wristbands onsite at The Oval on Saturday, May 30 at the information desk located on the City Hall side of The Oval. Note, too, that the exhibition is free and open to the public from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, May 30, but only those who pre-register will snag the VIP access and free beer.
Pop-Up Beer Garden and Food Trucks
In addition to the pavilions, the installation will be accompanied by a pop-up beer garden and food trucks.
Presented in collaboration with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Fairmont Park Conservancy, Future Sensations marks the first pop-up at The Oval this season, and is just the start of much more seasonal entertainment on the Parkway.
Each day, a rotating lineup of top Philadelphia food trucks will set up shop at The Oval with a selection of six to 10 food trucks each day — more than 35 throughout the week!
Food truck fans should look out for goods from such popular vendors as The Cow and the Curd, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, Mac Mart Cart, Taco Mondo, Vernalicious, The Tot Cart and many more. Throughout the week, food trucks open daily at noon and will remain open until the exhibit closes each night. For the complete food truck schedule, check right here.
In addition to the food truck eats, The Oval’s awesome beer garden will debut for the week with craft brew selections, including special brews from Yards Brewing Company that pay homage to Saint-Gobain’s French roots: look for Louey Loves Pale Ale and Saint-Gobain Saison. Plus, The Oval beer garden during Future Sensations makes for a perfect Philly Beer Week stop.
Getting There, Free Admission and More
Located in the shadow of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at Eakins Oval, The Oval is easily accessible to the entire city. By far, the easiest way to arrive at The Oval is by foot or bicycle. There are crosswalks leading from the sidewalks of the Parkway, straight to the park and bike racks are on site.
By public transportation, take SEPTA bus routes 2, 7, 32, 33 and 48. The Phlash is also a great way to go, with a stop delivering passengers right to Eakins Oval.
During the week-long exhibit, the pavilions will be open Tuesday through Saturday, noon-10 p.m.; Sunday, noon-7 p.m.; and Monday, noon-6 p.m.
The beer garden will be open Saturday, May 30, noon-10 p.m., Sunday, noon-7 p.m., closed Monday, June 1, and open Tuesday-Friday, 5-10 p.m., and Saturday, June 6, noon-10 p.m.
Remember, admission to the exhibition is completely free and all food and beer is available on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Future Sensations is an extremely photogenic event, so while you’re out there be sure to Tweet about and Instagram the scene and tag your photos with #visitphilly.
And get ready for a sensational experience.