Morris Arboretum Hosts the 2nd Annual STEAMpunk Expo, Where the Mad Science of the Industrial Age Meets Romantic Victoriana
On Sunday, June 12, from 10am-5pm, Morris Arboretum will host a STEAMpunk Expo, where the mad science of the industrial age meets romantic Victoriana. Home of the only remaining freestanding Victorian fernery in North America, Morris Arboretum’s 92-acre garden is the ideal location to explore the genre of science fiction, fashion and lifestyle inspired by 19th century industrial steam-powered machinery to create an alternative history. Learn about this fascinating sub-culture through STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) related family workshops, artistic performances, and lectures. Also on site will be a visitor fashion contest with the winner posted on Instagram, innovative steampunk ware vendors, and food fit for the steampunk devotee.
Discover the STEAM element of steampunk through a variety of educational instruction, theatrical productions, and aerial artistry. Located throughout the garden will be several Science Discovery Stations that include workshops with The Rittenhouse Astronomical Society and the Colonial Lego® Users Group. Mark Donnelly, historian, author and professor of arms, will present Bartitsu, the art of self-defense, and “Fight Like a Girl” for Victorian ladies and gentlemen. Automatic Arts has planned a variety of performing arts—theater, dance, comedy, acrobatics, storytelling and art installations—in unique areas of the garden. The Secret Circus, the performing troupe of The Philadelphia School for Contemporary Aerial Dance and Movement, will be on site performing spontaneous, daring acts of cirque sure to wow visitors. Many more activities and surprises await fans of Victorian futurism!
If you’re new to this genre, know that style is über important to steampunk enthusiasts. Think Victorian garb with a few edgy, retro-futuristic touches. Women don corsets, feminine skirts, and carry parasols, while men dress in vests with ascot ties, a top hat or pith helmet, and machinist goggles. Gears, cogs and other machinery parts are also used to create the final look, some minimal, others on a more grand scale. Costumed guests should stop by the Japanese Bell just beyond the Visitor Center to have their photo taken for the fashion contest. Volunteer judges will review all photos and select the “best of the dressed,” whose photo will be posted on Instagram, Monday following the event.
Visitors may shop the many steampunk merchants to complete their ensemble (and win the fashion contest!) or to start collecting gear in this alternative aesthetic. Look for jewelry, clothing, hats, tea and pottery accessories among the many vendors.
Need to nosh steampunk flavor? Try Morris Arboretum’s Compton Café, which will feature steak and ale pies for a taste of old England. Open from 11am-5pm, the Café will also offer traditional lunch options, light snacks and beverages.
Take advantage of this rare opportunity to be transported to another time when steam power and adventure fueled the imagination. To learn more about the planned events for Morris Arboretum’s STEAMpunk Expo, please visit the website, morrisarboretum.org/steampunk. All activities are free with admission and no reservations are required.
The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is located at 100 East Northwestern Avenue in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. The 92-acre horticulture display garden features a spectacular collection of mature trees in a beautiful and colorful landscape. The Arboretum includes numerous picturesque spots such as a formal rose garden, historic water features, a swan pond, and the only remaining freestanding fernery in North America. The arboretum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also the official arboretum of Pennsylvania. A permanent nationally award winning exhibit, Out on a Limb – a Tree Adventure adds to Morris Arboretum’s allure by transporting visitors 50 feet up into the treetops on a canopy walk that requires no climbing. Open weekdays 10am-4pm and weekends 10am-5pm (Apr-Oct). Open late on Wednesdays in June, July, and August until 8:00pm. For more information, visit www.morrisarboretum.org.
Photo Credit: Marie Ingegneri
Photo Caption: On Sunday, June 12, from 10am-5pm, Morris Arboretum will host a STEAMpunk Expo, where mad science of the industrial age meets romantic Victoriana. Through family workshops, artistic performances, and lectures, visitors may explore this genre of science fiction, fashion and lifestyle inspired by 19th century industrial steam-powered machinery to create an alternative history. Pictured here are steampunk enthusiasts, Chelsea Melvin and Bryan Thompson-Nowak, touring the Arboretum’s Victorian fernery, built in 1899. It stands today as a historical time piece documenting the British obsession with ferns and glasshouses. For more information, visit www.morrisarboretum.org.