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‘Winter Fountains’ Now Glowing Along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

This surreal installation by Jennifer Steinkamp, part of the Parkway 100 celebration, is on until mid-March.

The latest piece of the Parkway 100 centennial celebration, Jennifer Steinkamp’s incredible “Winter Fountains” art installation, is now on display along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Commissioned by the Association for Public Art, the light- and motion-filled works will be on display for just around 100 days — through March 18, 2018 — daily from sunset to midnight.


The goal of the project was to enhance, highlight, and celebrate the parkway as a cultural powerhouse. The installation runs from the Franklin Institute to the Art Museum, and to link the parkway museums, Steinkamp fused art and science to create her glowing “constellation.”


The four giant fiberglass domes are embedded with glitter, so they sparkle like a snowball in daylight when they are not active. Once the sun goes down, the domes glow with animated projections inspired by nature and Benjamin Franklin’s scientific research (think lightning, dust, rocks, and water particles), yet magnified and reimagined to become surreal and dream-like.


Despite the “Winter Fountains” name, there’s no water involved. The name instead reflects another source of inspiration: the parkway fountains that sit dormant in the winter.


Kids of all ages will be mesmerized by the larger than life displays and will love watching how the light plays on their bodies, projecting the art onto themselves as well as the domes. The sense of wonder that came across the faces of the children at the November 30 opening was palpable, and of course giant domes that kids can touch and run around add a nice tactile element to experiencing the art. Even the smallest kids can get something out of this installation, so it’s a great introduction to art in its many forms.


The “Winter Fountains” domes can be found at four locations along the parkway:

•  Aviator Park (at 20th Street, across from the Franklin Institute and Academy of Natural Sciences)

•  At 21st Street (between the Rodin Museum and the Barnes Foundation)

•  At 22nd Street (across from Park Towne Place)

•  At Spring Garden Street (the triangle near the Art Museum)


While you can view the installation every night, there are some special events in the works that will coincide with the installation and will make your visit even more exciting. These will take place on four select Friday nights throughout the exhibit’s run, one for each dome’s location, and will all be free and include dessert.


The first event planned will be at the Barnes Foundation on the evening of December 15, and will feature a pop-up holiday market of local artisanal gifts, free holiday treats from Whole Foods, and free admission to the Barnes after hours. Be sure to check the Parkway 100 website for future events celebrating “Winter Fountains.”


Photographs by Laura Swartz. 

Contributing Writer