The Minnesota State Legislature is voting in the next few weeks on a bonding measure that could fund a badly needed renovation of the 22-year-old Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The article below, from the upcoming issue of Walker magazine, outlines the details.
Please take action by visiting http://garden.walkerart.org/bonding today. It’s quick, easy and will make all the difference.
Welcoming more than 7 million visitors since it opened, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden has become an integral part of Twin Cities life. When the Walker and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board partnered in 1988 to create the first major urban sculpture garden in the country, the vision, still very much alive today, was to combine an amazing outdoor space with world-class art and culture—two assets for which the state is renowned.
While Twin Cities and Minnesota residents are regulars, thousands of students and hundreds of schools groups from across Minnesota and the region visit each year. “It’s a unique place for learning,” says Lockie Chapman, a teacher who brings her Orono middle-schoolers to the Garden each year. “My students enjoy seeing works like the Spoonbridge and Cherry, which challenge their definitions of what a sculpture should be.”
And nearly half of the Garden’s visitors are tourists—from the all corners of the United States and far-flung countries alike. That amounts to $16 million in direct annual economic impact, according to Meet Minneapolis, the city’s official convention and visitors association. Melvin Tennant, its president & CEO, calls the Garden “a true destination for visitors to our state.” Walker director Olga Viso adds, “For more than two decades, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden has welcomed visitors into our park system and introduced them to the state’s remarkable arts community. Nearly everyone goes home with their own iconic image snapped in front of the Spoonbridge and Cherry.”
But years of wear and tear have taken their toll on the Garden. To renovate and preserve it, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, with the wholehearted support of the Walker, is pursuing $8.5 million in state bonding. “Every garden has a natural life cycle, and plants periodically need to be refreshed. For instance, the lifespan of arbor vitae—the trees that create the walls of the outdoor galleries—is about 20 years,” says Park Board superintendant Jon Gurban. “Also, in a place as heavily trafficked as the Garden, significant infrastructure needs must be addressed to maintain this vibrant public space.”
After a careful study, the prominent landscape architecture firm oslund.and.associates has recommended a range of necessary upgrades throughout the 11-acre landscape. Tom Oslund notes that “by taking advantage of efficiency improvements in mechanical systems and lighting in the past 20 years, we can significantly reduce the Garden’s carbon footprint. For instance, an eco-friendly irrigation system would allow us to capture rainwater runoff to maintain the plants. And improvements to the drainage system, as well as repairs to concrete walkways and granite walls, which were not designed with the expectation of millions of visitors, will allow us to preserve the unique experience of visiting the grounds.”
Preserving the Garden is in many respects a cost-saving measure, an idea borne out by comparing its original budget of $16 million—funded by private contributions—to those of newer sculpture gardens in other cities, ranging from the 4.5-acre Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines ($46 million, 2009) to the 22-acre Kansas City Sculpture Park ($95 million, 2007) to Seattle’s 9-acre Olympic Sculpture Park ($85 million, 2007). The Minnesota legislature is currently considering this bonding measure—if passed, it will ensure that the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden remains a vibrant icon for the state, not to mention a home to the single largest cherry in the country.
Please encourage your state legislator to fund the renovation of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Visit garden.walkerart.org/bonding today to draft and send an e-mail showing your support.