Lumagination turns off lights

Botanical Gardens display breaks records with help from UB students


UB theatre and dance students recreated the Panama Cloud Forest in the Botanical Gardens, using 14 different lighting states to transport people from sunrise to sunset in seven minutes.

The Buffalo Botanical Gardens wrapped up its seventh annual Lumagination display this Tuesday, breaking previous attendance records with help from UB students. During Lumagination, colored lights from across the spectrum transform the plant life of the Gardens.

After two years of renovations, the red, blue and green lights drew in a record number of more than 12,000 visitors from Jan. 25 to Feb. 21.

Erin Grajek, the associate vice president of Marketing and Visitor Experience, said this year has topped all other previous installations, attracting more traffic to the gardens.

“This is our first time working with students from UB,” Grajek said. “It was exciting to see the concepts for the sculptures narrow down and take shape.”

Striking insects from the Panama Cloud Forest region inspired Dome 11, which was constructed by UB students. A butterfly designed by Gina Boccolucci, a sophomore theatre design and technology major, forms the centerpiece of the students’ exhibit.

The sculpture with bulbous eyes, poured over in blue and purple light, looked like a life-sized Butterfree from the Pokémon games.

The wiry frame and gauzy wings of the creature make it subtle, mimicking real-life butterflies as their wings camouflage to blend in with their surroundings. Many attendees missed it on their trek through the jungle.

UB students also designed the two sculptures that lit up the lawn of the gardens.

On the left was an ascending cluster of rainbow poles, rising like pillars from the ground. On the right was a collection of neon rings arranged in a circle. The resulting effect was akin to the afterimage when you wave a glow stick around quickly in the dark.

Atmospheric music piped in from disparate locations as China, the Australian Outback and the kingdom of Hyrule.

Hannah Alessi, a student at West Seneca West Senior High School, had seen the flower gardens before, but never with the grandiose music and lights accompanying them.

“I’ve been here once or twice before,” Alessi said. “But it’s so different with the lights and different colors, plus the music. It really adds to it.”

To celebrate the partnership between UB and the Botanical Gardens, UB students were also offered $2 off admission on special nights. On Feb. 15, dubbed UB Alumni Night, the cast of the upcoming UB performance of “My Fair Lady” treated attendees to a short performance.

The venue encouraged guests to capture their visit at various “selfie spots” throughout the Gardens. Some took full advantage of the instant production value around them, including Bridget Almond, a Buffalo resident, model and a cook at the Sizzles on UB North Campus.

Almond attended with her publicist Tom Hylo Dekan for an impromptu photoshoot, but also to take in the spectacle that Lumagination allows.

“I come here every year,” Almond said. “It’s nice to see it from a different perspective, all lit up.”

The shift in perspective is a popular draw for the event. While some may not be interested in visiting the Gardens on a spring Sunday afternoon, many relished the opportunity to take in the grounds on a winter night, bathed in color.

Karen Jankowski, a Buffalo resident and member of the Botanical Gardens, had nothing but praise after touring the Lumagination section of the gardens.

“It was spectacular as always,” Jankowski said. “It’s great to see all of the work, love and care that goes into this place.”

David Tunis-Garcia is the arts editor and can be reached at