City

PHOTOS: Pulse, Dilworth Park’s Misty Fountain Art Exhibit, Is Now Open

It's a display you need to see for yourself.


pulse dilworth park

Pulse debuted to an excited crowd at Dilworth Park on Wednesday night. | Photo by Melvin Epps for Center City District

Last month, we told you that Dilworth Park would soon become home to Pulse, an ethereal fountain art exhibition that we’re really excited to see in person.

Now, the wait is over: The green, misty display debuted at the Center City park on Wednesday night — and a crowd of about 100 seemed to love it.

Some background: Pulse is designed by experiential sculptor Janet Echelman, who’s known for her stunning, billowing works that include material like fishnet (suspended in the sky) and, in the case of Pulse, atomized water particles (mixed with compressed air, so people who walk through the exhibition won’t get wet).

The Center City District commissioned Echelman to create the project in 2009, ahead of the $55 million Dilworth Park renovation in 2014. A lack of funding put Pulse on hold temporarily — but a $325,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation helped move things along, allowing the first phase of the display to open this week.

What to expect of the art exhibition? Four-foot-tall sheets of green mist will float above Dilworth Park’s 11,160-square-foot fountain, mimicking the movements of the trolley line underneath, at City Hall/15th Street Station. Eventually, blue and orange mist will appear at the fountain as well — to trace the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines, respectively.

The mist is actually timed to appear when the subways and trolleys do, creating, in Echelman’s words, “a living X-ray of the city’s circulatory system.”

So, yeah. Pulse is pretty cool. It’s certainly won the heart of Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron, who wrote that the exhibition is “fleeting as a heartbeat” and “pulses to the unseen rhythms of the city, then vanishes.”

If you needed further convincing, here are a bunch of photos and videos from its debut at Dilworth Park on Wednesday night. Give them a browse before you visit the park to check it out for yourself (and inevitably take selfies in the mist).

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Tonight's opening of Pulse!

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"Pulse" is my first water- based artwork

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