Repurposing Old Junk Into Art at Philadelphia Magic Gardens

“Magic” is exactly the right word for the Philadelphia Magic Gardens, a remarkable art space at 1020 South Street. Artist Isaiah Zagar has decorated the entire property with mosaics of glass and repurposed junk such as broken china, used bike wheels, and Latin American toys. This place is trippy even when you’re sober.

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Zagar says, “Art should not be segregated in museums; It needs to live free among us.” For that reason, he creates these public art spaces and welcomes visitors to enjoy the finished products. Many of his mosaics are scattered throughout the city of Philadelphia. Magic Gardens is the biggest collection of Zagar’s work.

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Photos From the Gardens

Bottles and cans, clap your hands. There’s nothing better than turning old junk into art.

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Even though the city of Philadelphia has many famous art museums, the Magic Gardens is my favorite art spot. All of the strange sights make it an Instagram user’s paradise.

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You’re not going to find art like this in a typical stuffy art museum.

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You’ll probably find yourself compelled to take some self pics in the broken glass. I don’t care to reveal how many shots of myself I took.

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The Gardens were pretty busy when I stopped by. The abundance of visitors created the opportunity for some artsy shots of other guests.

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This is a large piece of property. After starting indoors, you head out to the garden area, which doesn’t have any grass at all, since the ground has been tiled and the walls covered with mosaics. The setup is almost like a maze, with various walkways and multiple floors weaving through the grounds.

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Information About Visiting Philadelphia Magic Gardens: Ticket Cost, Hours

Magic Gardens is a non-profit organization. Current admission price for Philadelphia Magic Gardens is $10 as of 2020. Students pay $8, while kids between 6 and 12 are charged $5.

The Gardens are open everyday except Tuesday. Hours are 11 am to 6 pm, though sometimes they close early for private events. Check out the official website for further details. Buying tickets early is encouraged, since during busy times there can be a wait to get in.

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Guided tours of the Gardens are available on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 3 pm. That’s a great chance to hear more in-depth stories about this place and its kooky artwork.

The site hosts a lot of special events, such as Twilight in the Gardens, which runs on the fourth Friday of every month between July and October. These communal gatherings require special tickets and feature live music and art showings. Guests are encouraged to BYOBBS: Bring Your Own Booze, Blanket, and Snacks.

Similarly, there’s a Happy Hour Garden Party on the second Wednesday of each month from July to October. This 21+ event costs $20 but includes drinks and a DJ performance. Kids and families can attend the Family Jam events on occasional Sundays that feature art workshops and children’s activities.

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Make the Magic Gardens a part of your quirky Philadelphia visit, along with the Rocky statue, the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site, and the City Hall Tower.

Note: I was a guest of visitphilly.com at the Magic Gardens.

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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16 Comments

  1. I saw the exterior of this place while exploring south street one cold evening so many years ago. It looked so cool from the outside, but your pics inside are even more stunning. Would love to go back and check this out more in depth.

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