Penn's 2017 SUMR Scholars Tour The Morris Arboretum

SUMR Blog

Penn's 2017 SUMR Scholars Tour The Morris Arboretum

Botanical Marvels, Treetop Trails, Kinetic Artworks, Victorian Gardens and a Very Unique Railway
image
Photos: Hoag Levins
The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics' Summer Undergraduate Minority Research Program (SUMR) scholars took a break from their mentored research projects for a Sunday tour of the University of Pennsylvania's Morris Arboretum. Located in Chestnut Hill in the far northwest corner of Philadelphia, the facility is a public garden sprawling across 92 sumptuously landscaped and heavily forested acres. Created as a Victorian estate and horticultural science center in the 1880s, it features imported asian forests, a swan pond, ornate fountains and thousands of botanical specimens. One of its most visually spectacular specimens is this Katsura, a century old tree (above) with a gigantic spread of limbs and foliage.
image image image
The Arboretum also features a constantly changing showcase of major artists' works. This season's exhibit (open until October 9) features more than four dozen wind sculptures by Utah artist Lynam Whitaker -- sturdy assemblies of welded brass and copper (above, left) that appear as light as tree leaves as they whirl around in the breeze. Ranging in size from 3 to 16 feet tall, the works range in price from $600 to $4,400. (Above, right) the SUMR group gathers in one of the many clusters of larger sculptures scattered across the grounds.
image image
(Above, left) SUMR scholars Haley Morin, a senior at Penn, and Lucy Ufio, a senior from Howard University strike a selfie pose at the statue of John Morris. Heir to a 19th century iron foundry fortune, Morris and his sister Lydia originally created the Arboretum as a part of their summer estate. (Above, right) LDI SUMR Program Coordinator Safa Browne (foreground) brings up the rear of the SUMR group whose members wander through one of the Arboretum's many flower and fountain gardens. This one was thick with roses, butterflies and birds of various varieties.
image image
One of the Arboretum's most unusual modern additions is 50-foot high steel walkway system traversing a dense forest's canopy called the "Out on a Limb" tree adventure. (Above, left) Taking in the view are SUMR scholar Caleb Diaz, a Penn junior, and friend Hannah Wied, a junior at Penn. (Above, right) Nets strung through the walkway structure provide a comfortable place to relax. (l to r, outer row) SUMR scholars Tamunobelebra Igoni of Huston-Tillotson University; Helen Fetaw, a Penn senior; Liqhwa Ncube, a Penn junior; Cindy Le, a Rutgers senior; and Haley Morin, a Penn senior. (Inner row) Arantza Rodriguez, a Penn junior; Evanie Anglade, a Penn junior; Eashan Kumar, an Indiana University senior; Caleb Diaz, a Penn junior; Lucy Ufio, a Howard University senior; Joanne Levy, Director of the LDI SUMR Program; and Safa Browne, Coordinator of the LDI SUMR Program.
image image
(Above, left) Another section of the "Out on a Limb" experience offers a human-sized bird's nest with three human-sized blue eggs that provide an irresistible photo op for nearly all who enter. (Above, right) Trying out the eggs for size are SUMR scholars Helen Fetaw, Tamunobelebra Igoni, and Cindy Le. Bottom row, Liqhwa Ncube, Evanie Anglade, and Haley Morin.
image image
(Above, left) The Arboretum's Victorian fernery was built in 1899 and has a jungle-like environment (and humidity level) along with a mini-stream, water falls, grottos, caves and an overlook bridge (above, right) from which SUMR scholars could see it all.
image image
Nineteen years ago, the Arboretum put in a temporary "railroad garden" with 15 different lines of model trains running through a criss-crossing, multi-level series of intricate trestles, bridges and tunnels on a quarter mile of intricately interwoven tracks. The display became so popular (and such a revenue generator) that it was made a permanent part of the facility and is constantly upgraded with historical buildings and artworks. Many of the building are replicas of historic Philadelphia structures. (Above, left) The Philadelphia Museum of Art and a trestle reminiscent of those across the Schuylkill River. (Above, right) A curve of houses from Elfrieth's Alley, the country's oldest residential street and (inset) Philadelphia City Hall with William Penn on top.
image image
(Above, left) SUMR scholars explore the works of the late New York artist George Sugarman, who pioneered the concept of massive abstract metal sculptures. Installed in 1992, they are part of the Arboretum's permanent sculpture collection. (Above, right) On a walk through a grove of historic trees, the SUMR group views a Dawn-Redwood tree that long ago went extinct except for a small number known to be growing in a remote valley of China. This one grew from a Chinese seed that was planted at the Arboretum in 1948.
image image
After a serene stop at the Swan Pond and its picturesque "Love Temple," (above, left) the SUMR group headed back for the trolley bus (above, right) that had ferried them to the Arboretum from the Penn campus. At the turn of the 20th century, when Arboretum founders John and Lydia Morris wanted a classical temple structure built on their swan pond, they copied a design from the more than 2,000-year-old works of Marcus Vitruvius. Vitruvius was a military engineer in the armies of Augustan Rome who authored a ten-volume treatise on perfecting the proportions of architecture.