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Eye On The Arts: 'PAFA In Bloom'

By Pat Ciarrocchi

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is blooming this weekend.

For three days beginning Friday, the priceless American masterpieces in its collection are being upstaged by flowers.

Nationally renowned floral artist Bill Schaffer says that when art is alive, you have to move fast.

"It's been 18 months of madness, and it's actually coming to fruition," said Schaffer.

PAFA is coming into full bloom, as 75 floral designers from 12 states and three countries do 65 pieces of floral art that interpret PAFA's masterpieces.

Shaffer and his wife and artistic partner, Kristine Kratt, planted the seed with the museum.

"We are bringing floral art into an art museum for the public to appreciate," explained Schaffer. "A lot of designers buy their flowers up to a week in advance so they can bloom to a specific point in time, before they bring it here."

Usually, these types of floral art shows are regional, because the designers need to maintain the blooms so they don't fade. That takes lots of watering in a hot museum environment.

On any given work day, Marjorie Elsey is creating designs for weddings. At PAFA, she re-imagined a sailing ship.

"If you look on my ship, you can see equisetum. I took pins to recreate the nail heads and then painted them, so they wouldn't be silver but be brown," -- more natural and authentic, said Elsey.

Bill and Kristine's grand staircase piece with 2,000 stems was inspired by PAFA's historic landmark building, designed by Frank Furness and his gothic arches.

"It's 12 feet tall by 18 and half feet in diameter," said Schaffer. "It's a pretty dynamic piece with flowers on it from Japan, Holland and Hawaii."

There is a challenge working around priceless art.

Melissa Kaiser, the VP of Development, was a little bit worried.

"The displays are placed exactly right, so the crash zone, as we call it, is clear of any artwork," she said.

Bill Schaffer agrees. He needed to make sure that if a piece fell over, there wouldn't be a domino effect.

The only domino to fall here is art interpreting art.

For more on 'PAFA in Bloom,' visit:

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