Q&A: Behind the Scenes With Longwood Gardens’ Executive Director Paul B. Redman
With a hip new beer garden and a recently opened light show, Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience, Longwood Gardens is experiencing something of a hot streak right now. And behind all of the fabulous flowers and brilliant lights is Longwood’s executive director Paul B. Redman. The arbiter of all things flora and fauna is responsible for 400 professionals and 800 volunteers, in addition to overseeing programming for the Gardens — no small feat, to be sure. Today, we caught up with Redman, and he spilled the details on his favorite beer garden bites, how many folks it took to prepare Nightscape and which program to look out for in spring 2017.
What inspired you to champion the Nightscape summer exhibit? Were you familiar with Klip Collective or Ricardo Rivera’s work?
When we embarked on our Fountain Revitalization Project in October 2014, we knew we would not have the use of our Main Fountain Garden for our illuminated fountain shows and fireworks displays for two years, so we needed to fill that void. We had seen Klip’s work around the region at Bartram’s Garden and at the Philadelphia Flower Show and thought it would be really interesting to see what Klip could create at Longwood. So, we invited Ricardo out to the Gardens and he was inspired by the beauty of the landscape and Gardens and spent two years creating, testing, and refining Nightscape.
What’s your favorite aspect of the Nightscape exhibit?
I think each of the installations is extraordinary, but if I had to pick a favorite, I would say The Topiary Garden—it is whimsical and fun and really transforms the space. However, I think what really pleases me most about Nightscape is seeing new guests come to the Gardens to see the display and realizing how much Gardens have to offer and wanting to come back again.
How many times have you seen the exhibit?
I have enjoyed Nightscape many, many times, including watching it for two years through its development. But regardless of how many times I see it, I always discover some aspect I missed before. It never disappoints.
What sort of preparation goes into an exhibit like this?
We have been working with Klip on Nightscape for nearly two years. The project has involved the entire Klip team and nearly 70 staff at Longwood in all areas of the Gardens to bring the display to life.
What’s one fun fact people might not know about Nightscape?
The projection area of the Large Lake, which is proving to be one of our guests’ favorite installations, is a whopping 25,000 square feet!
What’s your favorite menu item from the new beer garden?
It’s all tasty, but I really enjoy the Bratwurst accompanied by our signature brew: Longwood Seasons: Summer Zest created by Victory Brewing Company using lemons grown at Longwood.
Finally, as a die-hard Longwood fan, I have to ask: What kind of programs do you see on the horizon? Can you give readers a sneak peek?
We are always planning new and exciting things for our guests to enjoy at the Gardens. We have some terrific displays and programs planned for the upcoming months. I would encourage readers to mark their calendar for spring 2017 when our Main Fountain Garden returns. It will be spectacular!
For more information about Longwood Gardens and planning your visit to Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience, click here.This is a paid partnership between Longwood Gardens and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio