Welcome to Urban By Design Online! This blog is a notebook of my travels as a city planner, historic preservationist and nonprofit advocate. It's a virtual collection of the many things that I adore, featuring cities, the arts, architecture, gardens, interior design, and retail. Enjoy! - Deena
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Entries in NNew York Botanical Garden (1)

Monday
Mar282011

New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show: On Broadway

As memories of winter slowly begin to fade, now is the perfect time to visit the New York Botanical Garden’s ninth annual Orchid Show.  This year’s theme is “On Broadway” which pays homage to New York’s most celebrated historic theaters.  Tony Award-winning designer Scott Pask, and image-maker Drew Hodges utilized thousands of orchids from the NYBG, and around the world to create an array of spectacular theater-inspired set pieces.

An Orchid Promenade, Credit: Scott Pask and Drew Hodges

The show's entrance was at the Reflecting Pool of the Conservatory’s Palms of the World Gallery.  Here  a 16-foot height proscenium arch and curtain was modeled after the Walter Kerr Theatre frame an orchid-bedecked stage heralding the starring role of these coveted plants in this show.  It should be noted that actual garden hoses were used to create the stage curtain.

This orchid, XAscocenda-Carolyn Ellis was truly a stand-out.

Although I’ve attended the show over the past several years, I am always impressed that the NYBG manages to find new and inspired ways to celebrate the beauty of flowers.  Orchids, known as the divas of the plant world, were the fitting stars of the show.  There were more than 300 types of species and hybrid orchids, including Dendrobium (cane orchids), Paphiopedilum (slipper orchids), Oncidium (dancing lady orchids), Cymbidium (Asian corsage orchids), and Phalaenopsis (moth orchids).

 

An Orchid Proscenium Arch and Curtain -Credit: Scott Pask and Drew Hodges

Admittedly, I spent a majority of the time gazing up at the ceiling, staring at the flowering arches that were suspended in mid-air.  They were created to resemble the New Amsterdam Theatre promenade.  It was fun to see how the designers played with color, texture, and occasionally interspersed the orchids of various fragrances throughout the display areas.

 

What made the exhibition unique was that it never employed gimmicky features like Broadway show posters or life-sized chorus girls made out of orchids to reiterate the theme. While there was background music, much of the exhibition was about utilizing one’s imagination. In many ways the exhibition evoked a few memories of my past theatergoing experiences. Walking throughout the show, it was not difficult to recall the anticipation of waiting for the orchestra to perform, and being dazzled by a theater’s auditorium. One clever feature was a section reserved for an “audience” of orchids, which oddly enough resembled people watching a show.

 

 

My favorite display was in the Seasonal Exhibition Gallery where there was an orchid chandelier (rumor has it that it contains 10,000 blooms!) that was suspended above the reflecting pool.  It was apparently similar to one that had existed at the Eltinge Theater on 42nd Street.

 The New York Botanical Garden’s Orchid Show is the nation’s largest and only curated orchid exhibition will be on view until April 25.   In addition to the show there is a complementary exhibition, Hirschfeld’s Broadway Scrapbook, in NYBG’s Mertz Library which displays more than 30 drawings, as well as posters, programs, and sketchbooks from the Al Hirschfeld Foundation that tell the history of the Great White Way as seen by its foremost chronicler.  For more information visit the NYBG’s website.