A cool new attraction opening this summer will have residents and visitors noticing public art in Philadelphia in a new way.
FIGMAGO, running Wednesdays through Sundays from Wednesday, July 18 through the fall, is an escape-room-inspired adventure that takes attendees inside the mind of a local muralist to ogle elaborate art installations, play brain-twisting puzzles and, on select nights, catch lavish acrobatic dance performances.
FIGMAGO FAST FACTS
- FIGMAGO runs Wednesdays through Sundays from July 18 through the fall.
- Special FIGMAGO: Alive dance performances take place at select times each weekend.
- The exhibit is set at 825 Bainbridge Street in Philly’s Bella Vista neighborhood.
- Tickets range from $24 to $38. Kids under 12 get in for $16.
What is FIGMAGO?
FIGMAGO was dreamed up by Philly-based muralist Meg Saligman and local contemporary dance troupe Brian Sanders’ JUNK, who developed the name and concept of the show by mashing together the phrase “figment of the imagination” with “imago,” the term for the final stage of a caterpillar’s life when it emerges from its cocoon as a butterfly.
The finished product is what they call a “living mural,” a trippy multi-room experience that merges visual art, dance, acrobatics and a variety of interactive elements to give ticket-holders a deeper look at what it’s like to create public art in this city.
The attraction is actually two different shows: FIGMAGO, which takes about an hour to explore, and FIGMAGO: Alive, a boosted performance that lasts around 75 minutes and includes an aerial dance show by Brian Sanders’ JUNK.
Both tours begin in Saligman’s actual studio in Bella Vista, where visitors get insight into the creative process of the artist, who has worked on six large-scale murals in Philadelphia and even more around the globe. From there, things get a little weird: Guests follow a narrator into a painted tunnel that opens to a labyrinth of rooms, each sporting its own installation and theme.
Each space comes with puzzles or interactive elements and its own mural, including a colorful 3D creation and a reflection pond in which exhibit-goers can watch an animated film. In the “Banquet Hall,” for instance, attendees gaze up at a Sistine Chapel-esque ceiling mural and take part in a secret activity with a Baroque twist.
After about an hour of exploring, those who opt for the FIGMAGO: Alive experience move into a final room to watch a performance by Brian Sanders’ JUNK that promises whimsical costumes, aerial acrobatics and a bizarre swing/cocoon contraption that harkens back to the “imago” concept.
While FIGMAGO runs every Wednesday through Sunday from July 18 to a to-be-decided date this fall, FIGMAGO: Alive only happens during select times from Fridays to Sundays. Tour sizes are limited to 12 and 24 people, respectively, and will be sure to sell out fast.
Snag tickets here to witness this fascinating experience.