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Art Is Blooming at The Living Museum®

Immersive exhibitions now on view at Selby Gardens’ two bayfront campuses blur the line between art and nature.

Presented by Marie Selby Botanical Gardens February 23, 2023

Have you ever walked inside a stained-glass lamp filled with flowers and a bubbling fountain?

Or witnessed colorful birds triggering ethereal notes on a piano that suddenly appeared in the middle of a garden?

These and other experiences that blur the line between art and nature await at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ two bayfront campuses.

Living Lampshade. This extraordinary gazebo with an orchid-inspired design references the leaded-glass lamps for which Tiffany Studios is best remembered.

On view through June 25 at the Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus, Tiffany: The Pursuit of Beauty in Nature showcases the creativity and innovation of American artist and designer Louis Comfort Tiffany. The immersive exhibition features dazzling horticultural displays inspired by Tiffany’s iconic leaded-glass lamps and windows.

Joining “Living Lampshade” are several more larger-than-life vignettes—like “Flowing Flower,” which combines crushed glass, colored stones, lush plants, and rivulets of water to depict a wildflower in the landscape. In all, more than a dozen different Tiffany-themed flower and foliage displays can be found inside the Tropical Conservatory and along the outdoor garden paths.

Flowing Flower. A mosaic of crushed glass, colored stoned, flowing water, and lush plants creates a picture of a wildflower in the landscape.

Image: Selby Gardens

Complementing this “living art” are more than 40 outstanding examples of Tiffany’s own work, in various media, on view in the Gardens’ Museum of Botany & the Arts. Interpretation that accompanies these spectacular lamps, windows, vases, and more tells the story of Tiffany and his talented team, who always looked to nature for inspiration as they transformed glassmaking and American decorative arts over a century ago.

The seventh installment in Selby Gardens’ annual Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Series, Tiffany: The Pursuit of Beauty in Nature is on view through June 25. Presenting sponsors of the exhibition are Drs. Joel Morganroth and Gail Morrison Morganroth.

Cutting Edge Meets Old Florida

Ten miles south, at Selby Gardens’ Historic Spanish Point campus in Osprey, the latest in art comes to dynamic life across 30 acres of pristine native nature.

Seeing the Invisible, a global exhibition of contemporary art created with augmented reality technology, is now in its second season on view at the campus. The show features 13 interactive works by renowned international artists, including such luminaries as Chinese activist and artist Ai Weiwei and British filmmaker and installation artist Isaac Julien. Several of the artists’ pieces are their very first works in AR.

View Sarah Meyohas’ 2021 AR work Dawn Chorus through your digital device in the Sunken Garden at Historic Spanish Point. 

Image: Selby Gardens

Each AR work in the show has been carefully positioned amid the Old Florida landscape of the Historic Spanish Point campus. But the artworks can’t be seen or heard—until visitors activate them with a digital app on their smartphone or tablet.

Seeing the Invisible is being presented simultaneously at 10 garden and museum sites in eight countries around the world. The works curated for the show address themes like the environment and sustainability, which come into sharper focus as the art engages with features of the natural landscape at each location. Selby Gardens is one of only three U.S. institutions presenting the show this year.

Turkish-American artist Refik Anadol’s Machine Hallucinations: Nature Dreams AR can be viewed on the bayfront lawn near the 19th-century Guptill House.

Image: Selby Gardens

Seeing the Invisible was initiated by the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens in partnership with Outset Contemporary Art Fund, with the support of the Jerusalem Foundation. It is on view at Selby Gardens through September 2023 and sponsored locally by Gulf Coast Community Foundation. To learn more and download the exhibition app before you visit, go to selby.org.

The Living Museum®

The rotating schedule of dynamic exhibitions at Selby Gardens’ two campuses are a hallmark of the Gardens’ operating model as The Living Museum®. These shows put art in dialogue with nature, creating novel ways for visitors to better appreciate both—and giving them new reasons to keep coming back.

To enhance and deepen the experience for Gardens goers, Selby Gardens offers an array of special events, classes, and activities connected to each exhibition. For a full schedule of what’s coming up, go to selby.org/events.