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A Garden Party in the Museum’s Renovated and Restored Upper Courtyard Garden

Photo by Joseph D. Boaen


Penn, HUP and CHOP faculty and staff are invited to a free Lunchtime Celebration on Friday, May 6, noon-2 p.m.

The gaping hole in the ground is gone. The scaffolding has come down, and the construction trucks have driven away. Phase I of the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s ambitious FARE Project—the Future Air-conditioning, Renovation, and Expansion Project—is complete, and a new 20,000 square feet interior space has been carved out of the ground underneath the Museum’s Upper Courtyard Garden. The garden has been renovated and restored.

Two-and-a-half years after groundbreaking, Penn Museum re-opens its signature Upper Courtyard Garden, complete with new plantings, grass, restored statuary, and a recreated reflecting pool—featuring water lilies and colorful new koi fish residents—with a Garden Celebration for Penn, HUP, and CHOP faculty and employees on May 6. Admission to the garden, and Penn Museum, is free with PennCard, HUP or CHOP identification.

There is no rain date for Friday’s Celebration, to be cancelled in event of rain, but on Saturday, May 7, the public is invited to celebrate the garden, with activities, noon-2 p.m., and free admission to the garden and Museum. In the event of rain on Saturday, activities will be held indoors.

Photos by Joseph D. Boaen

“The Upper Courtyard Garden has long been a special urban green space for the Penn community, and for our neighbors at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,” noted Museum Director Dr. Richard M. Leventhal. “We’re delighted to be able to re-open the garden, and invite everyone to enjoy this unique and beautiful environment, as it comes back to life this spring.”

To celebrate the return of the garden, singer/songwriter Chris Kasper, who recently appeared at World Café Live, will perform short sets in the garden between noon and 2 p.m. His voice evokes comparisons to Paul Simon and Ben Harper, and his music crosses acoustic folk styles with electric funk, jazz and blues. He has studied guitar with the likes of Joe Beck and Pat Metheny, and his songwriting was recognized with two awards at the 2002 Mountain Stage New Song contest.

Representatives from Christopher Allen & Julie Regnier Landscape Architecture, responsible, with Michael Lane of Hillspring Landscape Architecture, for restoring the garden, will be available to talk about the garden between noon and 2 p.m. The Museum Shop sets up a Spring Clearance table of special items, 20 to 50 percent off, and unveils new keepsakes commemorating the Museum’s landmark building and gardens.  Free light refreshments—lemonade, iced tea and cookies—will be available in the garden while supplies last.

Visitors will have an opportunity to win Pink Knock Out™ roses donated by the Morris Arboretum when they sign up for the Museum’s e-newsletter. The Morris Arboretum  is a 92-acre historic garden open to the public and located in Chestnut Hill. UC Green, a local organization that promotes and coordinates volunteer community greening projects in University City’s diverse neighborhoods, will have information about their organization, including ways to get involved.

Inside the Museum, visitors may take a short tour of the Museum’s celebrated exhibition of ancient Sumerian artifacts from Iraq, Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur, offered by curator Richard Zettler at 1 p.m. Much of the 4,500-year-old golden jewelry in the exhibition is inspired by regional plants.

This is also the last few days to see eight ancient Mesopotamian cylinder seals from Iraq, illegally brought out of the country and recovered locally by the FBI; after May 8, the Museum returns the seals to representatives of the Iraqi government.

The original 1899 plan for the University of Pennsylvania Museum garden, as conceived by architects Wilson Eyre and Frank Miles Day, called for an Italianate formal Upper Courtyard Garden with low, clipped hedges, brick walks, grassy terraces, and symmetrically placed trees.

Michael Lane of Hillspring Landscape Architecture collaborated with Christopher Allen & Julie Regnier Landscape Architecture to re-create the courtyard. “We wanted to retain the Italianate style and serenity of Wilson Eyre’s 1899 design,” Mr. Lane said, “while also meeting current ADA regulations and accommodating circulation and programmatic needs of the Museum.”

Design materials for the garden include brick, marble, a new lawn and hedges. The central reflecting pool has been recreated and replanted with hardy water lilies and lotus. Deciduous trees, Yoshino Cherries, which were installed to offer color, shade and to complement the courtyard’s entrance façade, flank both sides of the entrance.

New to the garden are skylights flanking three sides of the courtyard, providing natural light to the new underground spaces and a new architectural element to the garden. A number of stone benches provide opportunities to sit and view the space. In addition, two custom designed wooden benches provided by the TKF Foundation and placed at the transepts of the courtyard provide a welcoming, contemplative seat for visitors, who can record their thoughts in an all-weather journal placed under one of the benches. The Loren Eiseley Poetry Corner at the west end of the courtyard is dedicated to Loren Eiseley, a long-time Penn Museum anthropologist, essayist and poet.

Dagit/Saylor Architects, working with Marvin Waxman, Consulting Engineers, and Keast and Hood, structural engineers, designed the underground building portion of this $10 million phase of the Museum’s FARE Project, a long-range project that will ultimately bring air conditioning to the galleries, auditorium and offices of the historic building. P. Agnes, Inc. was the construction company. This first phase of construction created the underground space required for a future, centralized air-conditioning system, as well as new storage, office, and exhibition department spaces.

The reinstallation of the Upper Courtyard Garden was made possible, in part, through a generous donation by Kitty and Tom Stoner of Maryland, who contributed to make both this garden and the Stoner Courtyard garden by the Trescher Entrance a reality, through their TKF Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to provide the opportunity for a deeper human experience by supporting the creation of public green spaces that offer a temporary place of sanctuary, encourage reflection, provide solace, and engender peace.

Phase I of the FARE  Project was made possible, in large part, by Dr. Charles K. Williams II, whose $16 million gift “the largest in Museum history” launched the project that has allowed the Museum to create the infrastructure that will ultimately provide air-conditioning to the historic building (Almanac February 20, 2001).



  Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 30, April 26, 2005


April 26, 2005
Volume 51 Number 30


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