The Digital Timeline Experience

May 18, 2016

The Garden of the Phoenix Digital Experience was developed by Project 120 Chicago and the Garden of the Phoenix Foundation, both civic-pubic private partnerships with the Chicago Park District, and Chicago digital marketing agency envisionit, working closely with the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Park District, and other institutions and experts. 
“The Garden of the Phoenix, in Chicago’s Jackson Park, is one of the most significant public spaces in America that represents the relationship between the U.S. and Japan. Its story spans more than 120 years, and connects two nations –their friendship and mutual understanding despite highs and lows, war and peace,” Robert W. Karr, Jr., President of Project 120 Chicago.
“This year, an original art installation by Yoko Ono—SKY LANDING—will be unveiled on the site of the original Phoenix Pavilion built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. This location, and this website, are where our journey together will continue to unfold,” Karr said. “President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on May 27 will be a significant event in the U.S.-Japan relations, surely to be recorded in the timeline as he will be the first sitting president to visit the Memorial Museum.” 
“Like the Garden of the Phoenix itself, the online timeline is a boundary-pushing interactive experience that brings the park’s mission of sharing the two nations’ stories to life,” Karr explains.
Jason Goldberg, Executive Vice President of envisionit, explains that the timeline is designed to be a fluid experience on desktop, tablet or mobile that lets users choose to explore specific stories of the park or to scroll through its entire history. Each chapter of the timeline includes a gallery of historical images, articles, and videos to let users dig deep into the history.
“Our goal is to connect this rich history to not only the present but also the future and where we’re hoping to grow –not only this platform for education and connecting communities and cultures, but also activities of growth in the park,” said Goldberg.
The Garden of the Phoenix Digital Experience details events of the U.S.-Japan relations that relate to the Garden and Jackson Park, including the story of Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan’s influence on his career beginning with his encounter with the Phoenix Pavilion at age 26 at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. This influence is first evidenced in his development of the Prairie House, which is exemplified by the Robie House just blocks from the Garden of the Phoenix in Hyde Park.  
Another extraordinary story is the Osato Family who cared for the Phoenix Pavilion from 1935 to 1941. Despite the unfortunate internment of the Japanese-born father Shoji Osato after WWII broke, the racially mixed children of this Japanese American family achieved American dreams, especially the eldest daughter Sono, who became a Broadway star. Other events include the Wooded Island being designated as the Paul H. Douglas Nature Sanctuary in 1977 and the Art Institute of Chicago’s Ranma Restoration of the four original panels that survived the destruction of the Phoenix Pavilion by fire in 1946.

Said Janice Katz, Associate Curator of Japanese Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, “Within the Art Institute there are a few places where we had wonderful resources for the story. We sifted through more than a century and a half of historical documents, images and original materials, to select content to best bring the story to life.”   

Experience the timeline at


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