by Siobhan Gleason
What is steampunk? Michelle Conners, the public program event coordinator at the Morris Arboretum, describes steampunk as a “genre of literature” from the Victorian era that described a fantastical future. This genre was written by authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Steampunk has since evolved into a form of fashion and art.
Many people have embraced steampunk in the modern age as a form of entertainment, a way to dress and to express themselves. Michelle Conners enjoys steampunk as well. She attended a steampunk expo in Piscataway, N.J., with her friend. Conners thought, why not hold the same event in a Victorian garden? Maybe people who liked steampunk and lived nearby would come to the Morris Arboretum instead of Piscataway. The expo on June 21 will be the first of its type the Morris Arboretum has ever held.
The STEAMpunk Expo at the Arboretum will incorporate educational lessons and events into the fun of steampunk. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math. There will be various activity stations on alternative forms of energy, including the power of water, solar and steam. Another event is a steampunk fashion show put on by the students from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. After the show, visitors have the option to get a closer look at the fashions or talk with the students about their art.
Historical author Mark Donnelly will be holding three different activities at the expo. He will be telling a steampunk adventure story from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Later, from 1 to 2 p.m., he will be presenting his book on the Rube Goldberg machine and from 3 to 4 p.m. will be demonstrating bartitsu, or self-defense methods in Victorian England. The bartitsu workshop and the Rube Goldberg book presentation require expo tickets, which can be purchased on the Morris Arboretum’s website.
At night, a STEAMpunk dinner will be held at Compton Café, on the arboretum grounds, followed by a performance by the local steampunk band “This way to the Egress” on the Azalea Meadow Stage.
Michelle Conners is hoping to see a wide array of visitors: families, fans of steampunk and anyone who is curious enough to stop by. For those looking for a unique and enjoyable way to spend a Sunday, the STEAMpunk expo might be just right.