While Philadelphia is probably most well known for it’s cheesesteaks and its central role during the American Revolution, one of the things I like most about it is it’s creative atmosphere. I had taken a road trip here specifically to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but wanted to take a look at the now Instagram-famous Magic Gardens.
When the artist Isaiah Zager initially began working on this project, his sprawling mosaics spread into nearby vacant lots. Nearly ten years into this venture, the landlords of those lots attempted to sell the property and destroy the mosaics, but a public outcry rallied the community into an outpouring of support and donations that created the nonprofit organization “Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens” to purchase the property and protect the art.
After fourteen years of work, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens officially became open to the public in 2008 and has since become a popular Philadelphia landmark. Visitors are able to explore the winding paths of mosaics sculpted out of cement, ceramic, glass, and scrap metal- all coming together to create a cacophony of color and texture that is a delight to experience in person.
The Magic Gardens also have regular exhibits of artwork from all over the world as well as tours, performances, and educational programing- all of which are open to the public, so make sure you check the schedule before you visit!
At 3,000 square feet, the installation is an enormous work of art in and of itself, but over several decades, Zager has created hundreds of additional mosaic works spread throughout the South Street area of the city. It’s definitely worth walking around the area to see what other pieces you can spot- though the website does have an interactive map of the nearby mosaics.