Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota House of Representatives have recommended that the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden receive $7 million for a much-needed renovation, and now we need to make certain that all legislators strongly support a bonding bill that includes these critical funds for the Garden.
Please reach out to your state legislators and urge them to ensure that the Sculpture Garden renovation is included in the bonding bill and receives the $7 million that the governor and the House are recommending.
Why does the Garden need to be restored?
When it was built more than twenty years ago, few could have imagined how popular the Garden would become—over 8 million visitors have walked its paths. Due to its popularity, the infrastructure and plants in the Garden need serious repair and restoration. Signs of wear and tear include dated mechanical and irrigation systems, dying trees, uneven concrete, and inadequate lighting. Without immediate action, our beloved Minnesota landmark will continue to deteriorate, the Garden’s infrastructure and plants will be at risk, and the grounds will become less safe for its visitors.
The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, with the full support of the Walker Art Center, is pursuing $7 million in state bonding to restore and preserve this free and unique statewide asset. These preservation efforts will help improve the Garden’s long-term energy conservation, safety, and accessibility.
Why does the money need to come from the state?
The Garden is a joint project of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Walker Art Center. The Walker is responsible for the artwork and its conservation, while the Park Board is responsible for grounds and infrastructure.
Private contributions fully funded the initial investment, and NO public funds have been used for capital improvements. The Park Board and the Walker commit around $700,000 annually for maintenance and programming. This $7 million is needed to preserve the Garden for the next 25 years.
How will the $7 million be spent? Is it economically efficient?
The renovation includes a number of major facility repairs and upgrades:
- Concrete, granite, sidewalk, and lighting fixture repair and replacement; improvements to the irrigation and security systems—improving the safety and accessibility of the Garden.
- Transplanting, replanting, and removing a variety of plants, grass, and trees (including pines, lindens, oaks, maples, and arbor vitae, all of which have peaked in their life cycle)—urban environments, including the use of road salt and acidic soil, are notoriously tough on plants.
- Work related to the Cowles Conservatory to improve energy efficiency and lower annual operating costs.
This “shovel-ready” project would put more than 170 people to work in construction and landscaping.
Preserving the Garden is in many respects a cost-saving measure. Compare its original $2.1 million per acre budget—funded by private donations—to those of newer sculpture gardens like Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines ($10.2 million per acre) or Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park ($9.4 million per acre).
The Garden generates a direct annual tourism impact of $11.9 million each year. It attracts more than two-thirds of all visitors to Minnesota’s regional parks, park reserves, and trails and is the scene of countless weddings and celebrations, civic gatherings, and family get-togethers.
What can I do to help?
Send a note to your legislators, letting them know that the Garden restoration is important to you and that you want to preserve this icon for the next generation. It only takes a few seconds to send them a message!