Old City’s Hidden Mosaic Gem
On the corner of 6th and Walnut, the Curtis Center lobby is home to an intricate 15 by 49 foot glass mosaic mural. With over 100,000 pieces of favrile glass and over 260 individual colors, the Dream Garden illuminates this marble lobby. Although this work of art resides amid the tourist hub of the National Constitution Center and the Museum of the American Revolution, the Dream Garden is largely unknown to the Philadelphia community.
The Dream Garden mosaic was made in collaboration by Maxfield Parrish, an American painter, and Louis Comfort Tiffany, a New York-based artist. Parrish is responsible for the creation of the original Dream Garden Painting that inspired the mosaic mural. From 1914 to 1915, Tiffany Studios dedicated its time to transforming the original painting into a radiant masterpiece. The mosaic’s 24 panels took over six months to install in the Curtis Center, and was finally revealed in 1916.
After 82 years, the piece was put up for sale. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts swiftly purchased the Dream Garden in order to protect its alumnus’ work and secure the art in its original location. A century later, the Dream Garden still remains in its first and only home in the Curtis Center lobby.
Starting in early 2017, PAFA began a project to restore the Dream Garden in response to the Curtis Building’s renovations that caused shifts in the delicate glass. By April, the mural had been completely restored and was open to an educational walking tour. Although the led tour is not currently active, the Dream Garden mural is open for public viewing Monday through Saturday. During Philadelphia’s notoriously humid summers, finding unknown indoor attractions like the Dream Garden display is essential!