04 March 2006

a day at franklin park conservatory

Today we carted the whole family plus one to Franklin Park Conservatory near downtown Columbus. In addition to the normal plant rooms, there are FOUR special exhibits there right now: a permanent exhibit of Dale Chihuly's glass art; a traveling sculpture installation of Patrick Dougherty's "stick works" giant twig-scultpures; an orchid show; and of course the headliner, the 12th annual Butterfly Exhibition. Thousands of butterflies flying free in a pacific islands tropical greenhouse room.

Of course we went initially for the butterflies. The adults and older children will always enjoy butterflies; the middle kid wants to be an entomologist when he grows up; and the baby, well, what baby doesn't enjoy buffafweyes? Not only did we get to see freely flying lepidopterans, but they have a good-sized butterfly nursery too, with hundreds of chrysali and newly emerged butterflies.

So we went for the butterflies, but everything else was an amazing hit too. The Dale Chihuly glass sculptures literally elicited 'wow's from all 6 of us, including the 20 month old.

The Dougherty twig scultptures were amazing in scale and execution: giant sweeping structures reminiscent of cocoons throughout the Conservatory.

My personal favorite for a variety of reasons was the Orchid Show. Orchids with blooms six inches across -- orchids with blooms smaller than a pencil eraser. Pink, white, yellow, red, green; subdued and shocking. An infinite variety but all variations on a single theme.

Our middle child in particular was captivated by the beauty and variety of the orchids they had displayed: 500 plants and over 10,000 blooms.

So in sum, a wonderful convergence of exhibits which made for a great day's outing for the whole family.