The Lost Garden is a site-specific installation and performance by artist Martha McDonald at The Woodlands exploring impermanence and the fragile nature of memory. In the 18th century, The Woodlands was William Hamilton’s spectacular botanic garden and greenhouse of exotic plants, but it nearly disappeared in the rapid urbanization of the early 19th century. The garden was saved from extinction by being transformed into a cemetery, or “memory garden.”

Drawing on the language of Victorian handcrafts like jewelry made from human hair and wax flowers under domes, McDonald's installation of knitted flowers memorializes the lost plants from Hamilton’s garden. The performance takes audiences on an intimate song tour of the Victorian cemetery and into McDonald’s installation inside Hamilton’s 18th century mansion to conjure the dream of the lost garden.


All performances have ended. For information on viewing the installation or attending the Artist Talk, see below. 

Friday, September 26, 2014 at 4 P.M.

Special MEMBERS ONLY performance with reception to follow 
(Members, please email for more information on how to reserve your free tickets.)

Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 4 P.M.

Sunday, September 28, 2014 at 4 P.M.

Friday, October 3, 2014 at 4 P.M.

Saturday, October 4, 2014 at 4 P.M.

Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 4 P.M.


Tickets ($20/each) are required for each performance and must be purchased in advance. When attending a scheduled performance, please arrive at the Hamilton Mansion at least 10 minutes in advance of the start time to check-in. All events take place at The Woodlands at 4000 Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104.


Installation Viewing Hours and Artist Talk

Artist talk

Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 2 P.M.

(Tickets and advance reservations NOT required.)

Installation on view

Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 12-5 P.M.

Saturday October 18, 2014, 12-5 P.M.

About the Artist

Martha McDonald is an interdisciplinary artist whose performances and installations feature handcrafted costumes and objects that she activates through gestures of making and unmaking and singing to transmit narrative. McDonald's practice often focuses on site-specific "interventions" in historic house museums, libraries and gardens, which investigate the sites and their stories to explore how these public places connect with personal histories and emotional states. 

Her work has been produced in Berlin at Brotfabrik; in Melbourne at Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts, Craft Victoria and the Substation; in Sydney at Elizabeth Bay House; in New York at P.S. 122, The Joyce SoHo, HERE Center for the Arts and Galapagos Arts Space; in San Francisco at Theatre of Yugen; and in Philadelphia at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Painted Bride Art Center, The Prince Music Theater and the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. She was selected for artist residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Evergreen Museum & Library (Johns Hopkins University) and The Rosenbach Museum & Library. She received fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Independence Foundation. Her work is featured in Textiles: The Art of Mankind (Thames & Hudson, 2012).

Visit Martha's website to learn more.

The Lost Garden has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and a Leeway Foundation Art & Change Grant.



© 2014 The Woodlands 
4000 Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104