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Bringing Frida Kahlo’s Garden to Life through Bloomberg Connects

By the Bloomberg Philanthropies Arts team

Through funding and support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, as part of the Bloomberg Connects program, the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) has created a unique mobile experience for visitors to engage with its new FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life exhibition.

For FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life, visitors are able to access a multimedia guide on their personal mobile devices to help them explore Kahlo’s home in Mexico City – the Casa Azul, through images, audio content and videos; and to learn about the plant life depicted in her paintings. Inspired by Kahlo’s self-portraits, visitors will also be able to transform their selfies into Kahlo inspired portraits, which they can share through social media and will be compiled on NYBG’s social platforms.

The exhibit examines Kahlo’s perspective on beauty and the natural world, as evidenced by her surroundings, as well as the complex-use of plant imagery in her work. Featuring a one-of-a-kind display of several original Kahlo paintings and works on paper, the six-month exhibit reimagines Kahlo’s famed garden and studio at Casa Azul.

Learn more about how the exhibit was developed in the photo essay below!

Months before FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life opened, horticulturists in NYBG’s Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections began propagating the thousands of plants that are now featured in the Conservatory display.

The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory became the canvas for an evocation of Frida Kahlo’s garden at the Casa Azul (Blue House) in Mexico City, featuring native Mexican plants, terra-cotta pots similar to those Kahlo used at home, and architecture painted in the signature Casa Azul blue.

Tony-winning scenic designer Scott Pask, renowned for his designs on Broadway, once again returned to NYBG for FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life, dedicating his talents to the re-creation of the iconic pyramid at the center of Kahlo’s Casa Azul garden.

An homage to the stepped pyramid that serves as the centerpiece of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s garden at the Casa Azul (Blue House) in Mexico City, this highlight of the Haupt Conservatory display features native Mexican plants like those kept by the artist herself.
(Photo © Robert Benson Photography)

A fascinating panel exhibition in NYBG’s Ross Gallery presents museums and other sites in Mexico City where Kahlo’s and Rivera’s artwork and personal collections can be viewed, conveying the scope of their artistic and intellectual contributions to the cultural life of Mexico.
(Photo © Robert Benson Photography)

The Library building’s Britton Rotunda features Artist in Residence Humberto Spíndola’s The Two Fridas, which brings Frida Kahlo’s famous double self-portrait of the same name to life in a three-dimensional installation crafted from fine tissue paper.
(Photo © Robert Benson Photography)

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The LuEsther T. Mertz Library’s Art Gallery exhibition, curated by Adriana Zavala, Ph.D., features 14 of Kahlo’s paintings and works on paper—many borrowed from private collections—highlighting the artist’s use of botanical imagery in her work.
(Photo © Robert Benson Photography)

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Explore the rich history of Frida Kahlo’s art and garden in the Mobile Guide as you peruse audio content, archival and contemporary photographs and current-day video of the Casa Azul, and more.

The NYBG is part of Bloomberg Connects, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative that supports the development of digital programs at cultural institutions around the world to transform the visitor experience both on and offsite.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has supported other digital projects at the NYBG including the mobile app for Groundbreakers: Great American Gardens and The Women Who Designed Them in 2014, and the Wild Medicine exhibition app in 2013. Both apps are available for free download to iOS-enabled smart phones and tablets on Apple’s iTunes.