Morris Arboretum Hosts 3rd Annual STEAMpunk Expo: Mind over Matter

Morris Arboretum hosts the third annual STEAMpunk Expo: Mind over Matter on Sunday, June 11, 10am-5pm. Explore the genre of science fiction, fashion and lifestyle inspired by 19th century industrial steam-powered machinery to create an alternative history.  Home of the only remaining freestanding Victorian fernery in North America, Morris Arboretum’s 92-acre garden is the ideal location to learn about this fascinating sub-culture.

Discover the STEAM element (science, technology, engineering, art and math) of steampunk through a variety of educational workshops, exhibitions, and aerial artistry.  Also on site will be a visitor fashion contest, innovative steampunk ware vendors, pop-up musical performances, and food fit for the steampunk devotee.

Located throughout the garden will be Science Stations including The Rittenhouse Astronomical Society as well as stations exploring optical and cognitive illusions. Keep your eyes open for displays by the Mütter Museum and Museum of Interesting Things, which will depict an image of the open-minded Victorian’s interest in new ideas relating to science and nature.

Take in a lecture describing the worldwide travels of John & Lydia Morris, Victorian brother & sister founders of Morris Arboretum, and visit several garden features inspired by the duo’s globetrotting.

Explore the unusual with the Abraxas show (mind reading), a session with hypnotist Frank Perri, or take part in a séance.  (These two exclusive timed séances require tickets that may be purchased through Ticketleap).

Also on site will be The Secret Circus executing 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 with the winner posted on Instagram.

Visitors may shop the many steampunk merchants in the vendor village to complete their ensemble (and win the fashion contest!) or to start collecting gear in this alternative aesthetic.  Look for jewelry, clothing, hats, and uncommon chachkies among the many vendors.

Need to nosh?  Try Morris Arboretum’s Compton Café, open from 11am-5pm, for traditional and steampunk- themed lunch options (English pies!), 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,   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

Photo Credit:  Marie Ingegneri

Photo Caption:  On Sunday, June 11, from 10am-5pm, Morris Arboretum will host the 3rd Annual STEAMpunk Expo: Mind over Matter. 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