Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens was created by a man named Isaiah Zagar. During the 1960’s Isaiah began publicly creating art all over the neighborhood surrounding South Street. His mission was to renew and restore the neighborhood. The Magic Gardens is his largest public art installation. I can’t think of a lovelier way to spend an afternoon outdoors in Philly than by spending an hour or so admiring PMG.
Upon entering the museum doors, there is a fee to pay as an entrance ticket. Students do not have to pay the full adult ticket price if they have an ID on them! There is an indoor gallery and store but the real fun is all outdoors. It is crucial to make sure your visit is on a day where there won’t be any risk of rain/snow!
I remember my visit to PMG like it was yesterday. The second I entered the gardens I felt like I was in a fairy-tale. It was a sunny day in June, therefore the entirety of the property glistened in the light. Glass bottles of every color lined walls, arches, and pathways. Glass fragments, shards of cups, antique china, and pastel gemstones swirled about creating abstract mosaics. Letter tiles were ordered to form words, sentences, spontaneous thoughts, quotes, and expressions. Plants grew in pots or soiled patches. Old ropes, wrought iron, bike tires, and more were either scattered about or shaped together to make 3-D sculptures. “Junk” was everywhere, yet it was the most brilliant junk I’d ever seen.
Walking through PMG was like walking through a rainbow. Every color in existence could be seen. Wind chimes twinkled and chimed happy notes in the soft summer breeze. I found no way to make sense of the artwork. I simply admired it, breathlessly and wide-eyed. I ran my fingertips along the walls, climbed stairs that held messages beneath my feet, and let my soul run free. Simply being there made me feel whimsical and carefree. For a moment I wished there was no real world on the opposite side of the gate.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a great place for anyone with an avid imagination. It makes the artist want to be better, and the everyday person want to be an artist.