The Benjamin Franklin Parkway has always been a stunner at night, and this winter, the grand boulevard is getting lit — literally.
Running from November 30 through March 18, the free, outdoor Winter Fountains exhibition illuminates the area with a stunning nighttime display of surreal, glowing videos projected on to four large domes.
WINTER FOUNTAINS FAST FACTS
- Winter Fountains lights up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from November 30 to March 18.
- The free, outdoor exhibition features video projections on four large domes.
- The fountains are the central exhibition of the city’s Parkway 100 celebration.
The dazzling works — inspired by the Parkway’s grand fountains — are the centerpiece exhibition of Parkway 100, the city’s 14-month celebration commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the avenue’s groundbreaking.
Created by multimedia artist Jennifer Steinkamp and commissioned by the Association for Public Art with support from the William Penn Foundation, Winter Fountains lights up Philadelphia’s winter nights with a series of four installations.
These digital waterworks can be found in four key places along the Parkway: at Aviator Park in front of The Franklin Institute, on the Rodin Museum grounds near 21st Street, at the Park Towne Place Museum Residences and in the Spring Garden Triangle near Eakins Oval.
The fountains are comprised of translucent domes with surfaces that are interlaced with glitter to capture and play with sunlight during the day, just as true fountains would.
At night, the installations transform through the activation of 16 projectors. Videos created by Steinkamp bubble up within these miniature domed worlds.
The videos are inspired by Benjamin Franklin, the Parkway’s namesake. His experiments with electricity provide the central focus for the light show, as the projections arc and weave within their spherical spaces.
The attentive viewer will notice a touch of inspiration from around the Parkway as well. Shifting shapes call to mind the gaseous beauty of the universe, as seen through The Franklin Institute’s Fels Planetarium.
Cave paintings appear, drawing on the natural science studies of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. There’s even a touch of the flowers of a spring yet to be, just as might appear in the masterworks at the Barnes Foundation or the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
On the evening of Thursday, November 30, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Winter Fountains debuts just outside The Franklin Institute.
The night begins in the Fels Planetarium, with a reception and remarks. The lighting takes place across the street from the museum in Aviator Park at 6:30 p.m., with Steinkamp present for the premiere. Hot drinks and desserts will follow until 8:30 p.m.
The opening reception and ongoing display are free and open to the public.
Winter Fountains is the premier exhibition of Parkway 100, the city’s 14-month soiree taking place both inside the venerable institutions that line the mile-long Parkway and outside among its fountains, gardens and public art.
For more information on other Parkway 100 events and exhibitions, read our complete guide here.