125 Years of Wonder, and One Fantastic Gala

One of Pittsburgh’s most beautiful and treasured attractions had a birthday last month, and man did they throw themselves one spectacular party to celebrate.

Visitors of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are well aware of the breathtaking floral installations, meticulous groundskeeping and horticulture, and amazing sensory experience offered every day at Phipps, but what visitors may not have known is just how great Phipps is at throwing a 125th Anniversary Gala.

Those who attended last month’s celebration were treated to a unique experience in a familiar setting. Gala organizers thought of everything from three-piece, 1920s inspired jazz groups, to modern spirits and heavy hors d’oeuvres, to involving guests by inviting them to dress in outfits meant to represent any of the 12 decades Phipps spans.

So flappers, dapper gents, proper, post-Victorian gentlewomen and sleek, modern dudes in skinny suits and man buns commingled in a heterogeneous stroll among the orchids and the verbena and the columbine.

Attendees could make their way through each of Phipps’ rooms where they might encounter palm or tarot card readers, or mixologists serving clever beverages, or musical talent covering the more than 100 years of styles and sounds celebrating Phipps’ longevity and consistent record of excellence among Pittsburgh’s most important and notable attractions.

Perhaps for the first time in its history, Phipps’ installations and displays were the backdrop for the main focus of the evening – the historic and iconic Victorian glasshouse. Phipps used modern lighting displays to emphasize the glass masterpiece, and visitors could not mistaken the utter beauty and uniqueness of Phipps’ glass enclosure.

The gala also featured Phipps’ completed Palm Court renovation and a miniature railroad display built to scale and featuring the sights and sounds of Pittsburgh at the turn of the 20th Century.

Each of the exhibits featured at the gala, including the Fall Flower Show, the Garden Railroad, Tropical Forest Cuba and a photo exhibit showing the evolution of Phipps over 125 years, remain open during normal business hours.

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