The Oval+ returns to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway this summer at Eakins Oval. This year’s theme is “make,” “hear,” and “play.” It is designed to encourage visitors to spend more time playing, creating, and hanging outside, according to Marc Wilken from Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.
“It represents three blocks of fun where will be doing three different activities on each block,” he said.
The “Make” block is located in front of the Barnes Foundation and features outdoor reading and music rooms, as well as a space for art and design.
The “Hear” block is in front of the Rodin Museum.
“It features an array of art installations, stadium seating, and a retrofitted double-decker bus that will function as a music venue and snack stand,” said Wilken.
A block for “Play” is located in front of Von Colln Park and features a pop-up basketball court, Ping-Pong tables and bleachers.
The OVAL+ is a public space created from eight acres of Eakins Oval, mostly in parking lot and a stretch of road along the Parkway to Logan’s Circle.
“Philadelphia is a hub of unique historical and cultural attractions and the Oval is one attraction that stands out for its innovative use of public space,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “It brings family, friends and Philadelphians from across the city to enjoy everything from yoga, food to movies and games.”
It’s a partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, where Kathryn Ott Lovell is commissioner.
“We have retained Philadelphia-based PORT Urbanism to develop the overall plan and installations for The Oval+,” Lovell said. “PORT collaborated with Mural Arts Philadelphia on the graphic elements of the plan, including playful sculptures by arts that encourage visitors to engage with the objects in a personalized way.”
The OVAL+ runs for four weeks. Planners said it has more programming and installations than ever before, such as the Mural Arts ground painting.
“It just gives you the impression of being three dimensional and the colors are bright, summery, you know those kind of things to help people enjoy the summer,” Mural Arts artist Felix St. Fort said. “It’s an urbanist’s dream- repurposing a forgettable parking lot into a gigantic ground-level mural.”
Throughout the years, the event has continued to expand.
“Each year, The Oval offers new and innovative ways to experience the Parkway, the gateway to Fairmount Park,” said John Gattuso, board president of Fairmount Park Conservancy. “We’re excited to see how residents and visitors alike enjoy The Oval this year, whether it’s enjoying a drink and a meal at the beer garden, live music along the Parkway, or a splash under the spray garden.”
The Oval opened July 19 and will remain open until Aug. 18. For a list of hours for certain activities, a full list of programming and more information, visit theovalphl.org.
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