The M.S. Hershey Foundation
The Hershey Gardens were founded by Milton Hershey in 1937, beginning as a 3-1/2 acre rose garden. Growing to 23 acres, the site is now home to the 14,000 sf Milton & Hershey Conservatory, completed in 2015. Perched atop the Hershey Gardens and overlooking the historic rose garden, its design harkens back to the conservatories Milton & Catherine Hershey built in the early 1900s. True to the Hershey’s commitment to enrich their community and provide delight to young learners, the Conservatory offers stunning horticulture exhibits and a dynamic butterfly atrium for visitors of all ages.
The design of the new structure mirrors the historic detail of Milton & Catherine Hershey’s original conservatory at their family home, High Point. It also incorporates modern materials, systems and functionality to support the intricacies of the project program. Guests are greeted in the 2,800 sf Visitor Center Welcome Pavilion, featuring eight floor-mounted planters with 20’ tropical trees and flowing foliage reaching toward a large skylight, adorned with hanging stained-glass butterflies. Full height Palladian-style windows provide sweeping views of the gardens.
The visitor center leads into the main attraction, a 2,000 sf living tropical butterfly atrium exhibit. This specialized indoor environment allows visitors to view tropical butterflies flourishing year-round. Both the envelope and interior conditions were carefully designed to maintain the tight environmental tolerances that encourage high levels of butterfly movement. To encourage flight activity, the design incorporates smooth transitions of the surface materials and eliminates sharp corners. A separate chrysalis exhibit is environmentally controlled to showcase the hatching process, and the adjacent workroom is a “clean room” with a bright white finish for easy identification of very small parasites.
The Conservatory also incorporates a 450 sf retail gift shop and 2,200 sf of flexible event space that serves rotating seasonal exhibits, educational support learning stations and wedding events. Lower level support spaces include 1,300 sf of office space, public restrooms, FDA-controlled shipping and receiving areas and mechanical equipment space and storage for exhibits.