AAA Editor Notes
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is in Franklin Park at 1777 E. Broad St. The site includes the John F. Wolfe Palm House, built in 1895 and designed in the style of the Glass Palace at Chicago's World Fair and Columbian Exposition in 1893. Several modern glasshouses are interconnected. Visitors can view more than 400 plant varieties as they travel through simulated habitats of the world, including a tropical rain forest, the Himalayan Mountains, an arid desert and a Pacific Island water garden.
The conservatory also has a bonsai collection, a bride's garden, a 4-acre community garden campus, a 1-mile walking loop and sculptures.
The John F. Wolfe Palm House holds more than 40 species of palms (some are endangered species) and tropical flowers. Light artist James Turrell has dressed up the Palm House with his permanent installation of 7,000 LED bulbs that glow through a changing program each evening from sunset until dawn. Visitors can watch the free show from the Grand Mallway, a large outdoor botanical garden to the west of the Palm House.
Multiple installations from the conservatory's signature collection of Dale Chihuly glass artwork are on long-term display; it's reputedly the only botanical garden in the world to own such a large collection—about 3,000 pieces—by the artist. His glassworks are creatively placed in unexpected places throughout the gardens. Some pieces, tall and spear-shaped in brilliant reds, purples and greens, are interspersed in the foliage and appear to have sprouted from the ground.
During the Blooms & Butterflies exhibition, held early March to mid-September, visitors can observe as newly hatched butterflies are released daily, adding splashes of color to the emerald foliage of the Pacific Island Water Garden. The conservatory's holiday exhibition, Merry & Bright, is held from mid-November through early January. Orchids are displayed from mid-January to early March. Glassblowing demonstrations are offered April through December.
Courtesy wheelchairs are available.
Food is available. Time: Allow 1 hour minimum.