Blogs Centerpoints Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Around Town: Sculpture Garden on Loan

The Walker and Minneapolis Sculpture campus renovation will be completed with the reopening of the Garden on June 3, 2017, created an integrated 19-acre campus. Numerous changes—the addition of 18 new artworks and more than 300 new trees, eco-friendly landscape features, and a water reuse system—will improve the Garden’s aesthetics, accessibility, and long-term stability. As spring haltingly […]

Brower Hatcher, Prophecy of the Ancients, 1989, on loan to the City of Minneapolis and Gold Medal Park. Photo: George Heinrich, October 2016.

Brower Hatcher, Prophecy of the Ancients (1989), on loan to the City of Minneapolis and Gold Medal Park. Photo: George Heinrich, October 2016

The Walker and Minneapolis Sculpture campus renovation will be completed with the reopening of the Garden on June 3, 2017, created an integrated 19-acre campus. Numerous changes—the addition of 18 new artworks and more than 300 new trees, eco-friendly landscape features, and a water reuse system—will improve the Garden’s aesthetics, accessibility, and long-term stability. As spring haltingly arrives in Minneapolis, installation of returning works, as well as those newly commissioned or acquired, continues apace. While we look forward to welcoming more than 30 artworks back to the Garden, there will be some familiar faces missing.

Mark di Suvero, Molecule, 1991, on loan to the City of Minneapolis and Gold Medal Park. Photo: George Heinrich, October 2016.

Mark di Suvero, Molecule (1991), on loan to the City of Minneapolis and Gold Medal Park. Photo: George Heinrich, October 2016

Nearly all the previous Minneapolis Sculpture Garden artworks were placed in storage during construction. Leveraging innovative partnerships across Minneapolis with the Gold Medal Park Conservancy Fund, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia), and the Weisman Art Museum, the Walker relocated several of the most beloved sculptures through long-term loans, allowing the works to remain accessible to the public. The loans are renewable each year and partnering organizations have agreed to the arrangement for up to five years, after which time the loans will be reevaluated.

Tony Cragg, Ordovician, 1989, on loan to the City of Minneapolis and Gold Medal Park. Photo: George Heinrich, October 2016.

Tony Cragg, Ordovician Pore (1989), on loan to the City of Minneapolis and Gold Medal Park. Photo: George Heinrich, October 2016

Brower Hatcher’s Prophecy of the Ancients (1988), Mark di Suvero’s Molecule (1977–1983), and Tony Cragg’s Ordovician Pore (1989) were loaned to Gold Medal Park, which sits adjacent to the Guthrie Theater, the Walker’s former neighbor, along the Mississippi Riverfront.Jacques Lipchitz’s Prometheus Strangling the Vulture II (1944/1953) was loaned to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, aligning with the institution’s robust bronze collection. Frank Gehry’s Standing Glass Fish (1986) is on loan to the Weisman Art Museum, housed in the iconic Gehry–designed building on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus.

Frank Gehry, Standing Glass Fish, 1986, installed in the Weisman Museum at the University of Minnesota. Photo: Rik Sferra, February 15, 2016.

Frank Gehry, Standing Glass Fish (1986), installed in the Weisman Museum at the University of Minnesota. Photo: Rik Sferra, February 15, 2016

Campus Renovation Update: Sculptures Move to Gold Medal Park

In preparation for the renovation of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Cowles Conservatory, some of the Garden’s most beloved art is finding a temporary home. This week three favorites make their debut in Gold Medal Park, in downtown Minneapolis just adjacent the Guthrie Theater: Brower Hatcher’s Prophecy of the Ancients (1988), Mark di Suvero’s Molecule […]

goldmedal In preparation for the renovation of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Cowles Conservatory, some of the Garden’s most beloved art is finding a temporary home. This week three favorites make their debut in Gold Medal Park, in downtown Minneapolis just adjacent the Guthrie Theater: Brower Hatcher’s Prophecy of the Ancients (1988), Mark di Suvero’s Molecule (1977–1983), and Tony Cragg’s Ordovician Pore (1989).

Other works from the Garden have already gone into storage, but additional sculptures will be moving to guest venues this fall. Jacques Lipchitz’s Prometheus Strangling the Vulture II (1944/1953) will be on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Frank Gehry’s Standing Glass Fish (1986) will find a home in the Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota campus in early winter of 2015. The iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985–1988) by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen will remain on view in the Garden until spring 2016, when full construction begins, as will Richard Serra’s Five Plates, Two Poles (1971) and Sol LeWitt’s X with Columns (1996). The sculpture garden improvements are part of a broader plan to renovate and unify the entire 19-acre Walker campus, an ambitious project that involves the construction of a new entry pavilion for the Walker, a new green space on the Walker hillside, and the greening of Hennepin Avenue.

Walker Director Olga Viso captured these shots of works by Hatcher and di Suvero in their new environs:

Molecule-GoldMedal hatcher-goldmedal

Walker Registrar Joe King took these snaps of Prophecy of the Ancients’ move, while our friends at the Guthrie posted a quick video of Molecule arriving at its new home.

Photo Sep 11, 10 48 21 AM Photo Sep 11, 10 49 43 AM Photo Sep 11, 10 52 49 AM

Learn more about progress on the Walker/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden renovation project.

Big Changes to the Walker/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Campus

Change—of the most exciting kind—is afoot on the Walker campus. As I write this, construction fence is going up and the first sculptures are being safely secured for storage as we begin the ambitious renovation of the Walker grounds and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. In 1988, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board partnered with the […]

The renovation will create a one-campus feel, unifiying the Walker grounds with the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Image: © HGA Minneapolis and oslund.and.assoc.

The renovation will create a one-campus feel, unifying the Walker grounds with the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Image: © HGA Minneapolis and oslund.and.assoc.

Change—of the most exciting kind—is afoot on the Walker campus. As I write this, construction fence is going up and the first sculptures are being safely secured for storage as we begin the ambitious renovation of the Walker grounds and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

In 1988, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board partnered with the Walker Art Center to develop the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the first major urban sculpture park in the country. Today the Garden is one of the crown jewels of the park system, uniting two of Minnesota’s most cherished resources—its green space and its cultural life. The 11-acre site showcases more than 40 works from the Walker’s internationally renowned collections. But after 26 years and more than 9 million visitors, the Garden’s infrastructure needs to be reconstructed in a sustainable manner to serve visitors now and for generations to come.

Thanks to the citizens of Minnesota, the State Legislature, and Governor Mark Dayton, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board received $8.5 million in public bonding support to fund the much-needed reconstruction of this major cultural asset. In addition, the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization has dedicated up to $1.5 million for innovative storm-water management systems in the project. This comprehensive work will require Garden closure from spring 2016 until summer 2017.

A 13-ton, steel-clad boulder, part o Jim Hodges' Untitled (2012), being moved for storage. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

A 13-ton, steel-clad boulder, part of Jim Hodges’ Untitled (2011), being moved for storage, July 30, 2015. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

You’ll start to see changes in the coming weeks as this project progresses. Last week, the first of many sculptures to be placed in storage during construction—Jim Hodges’ steel-clad boulders on the Walker hillside—were removed, and nearly all artworks from the Garden will join them in the coming weeks. But several works will relocate and remain accessible to the public. The iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985–1988) by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen will remain on-site, as will Richard Serra’s Five Plates, Two Poles (1971) and Sol LeWitt’s X with Columns (1996). (The Garden will remain open to the public through spring 2016.)

Brower Hatcher’s Prophecy of the Ancients (1988), Mark di Suvero’s Molecule (1977–1983), and Tony Cragg’s Ordovician Pore (1989) will be on view in Gold Medal Park adjacent to the Guthrie Theater. Jacques Lipchitz’s Prometheus Strangling the Vulture II (1944/1953) will be on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Frank Gehry’s Standing Glass Fish (1986) will find a home in the Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota campus in early winter of 2015.

The Garden’s renovations will mirror big changes on the Walker campus as well, and the two projects will create a unified feel for these two cultural campuses, which will now share a combined 19 acres of green space. Renovations to the Walker building and campus, slated to be completed by November 2016, will include a new entry pavilion for the Walker, a new Walker green space on the hillside, and the greening of Hennepin Avenue. The Walker will remain open during construction. When the Garden reopens in summer 2017, the vision for the 19-acre Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden campus will be realized.

We’ll share progress on these two historic projects through regular updates right here on the Centerpoints blog.

Image: © oslund.and.assoc.

A rendering of the central allée in the renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Image: © oslund.and.assoc.

Learn more about progress on the Walker/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden renovation project.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: 1988 Opening Day

This summer, I took a look back through the photo archives for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden during its opening day as a new park. While working on this project, I discovered many of the collaborative processes involved in the creation and success of the garden. The following is an account of my research and findings […]

This summer, I took a look back through the photo archives for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden during its opening day as a new park. While working on this project, I discovered many of the collaborative processes involved in the creation and success of the garden. The following is an account of my research and findings in regards to their historical context surrounding the garden.

Perhaps the most influential collaboration in the creation of the park, Martin Friedman, the Walker’s director from 1961 to 1990, and David Fisher, Minneapolis Parks and Recreation superintendent, worked towards creating an urban sculpture garden where visitors could gather in celebration of the arts. Friedman approached Fisher with concerns about the future of the land that sat across from the Walker. The two of them worked out the logistics of turning that land into a 7.5-acre area that would become host for a variety of sculptures while remaining functional and accessible to the public. Through this partnership, the Walker took on the responsibility of the artistic aspects of the park and the City of Minneapolis would monitor the maintenance. (For more, read Martin Friedman’s essay, “Growing the Garden,” in Design Quarterly No. 141 (1988), published by MIT Press for the Walker Art Center.)

Martin Friedman and David Fisher, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening,  Dedication Ceremony Ribbon Cutting, 10 September 1988

Martin Friedman and David Fisher at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden ribbon cutting, September 10, 1988

Now that Friedman and Fisher had discussed the logistics of how the park would be run, they were in need of an architect to design the grounds. Friedman turned to Edward Larrabee Barnes, a New York–based architect responsible for the construction of the 1971 Walker building, in hopes that he would return to the area to design the park. Barnes accepted the architectural position as the head of the project and began plans for the renovation. Working alongside Barnes in the design and construction of the garden was landscape architect Peter Rothschild. Barnes and Rothschild began the project by researching and gathering inspiration from 18th-century Italian gardens. In their plans for the garden, Barnes and Rothschild incorporated traditional allées that separate formal green areas, resembling gallery spaces for the sculptures. These roofless green spaces divided the land and created a symmetry that is a staple of their inspirational 18th-century gardens.

Peter Rothschild, John and Sage Cowles, E.L. Barnes and Alistair Bevington, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, 10 September 1988

Peter Rothschild, John and Sage Cowles, E.L. Barnes and Alistair Bevington, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, September 10, 1988

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden plans, Edward Larrabee Barnes & Associates with Peter Rothschild

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden plans, Edward Larrabee Barnes & Associates with Peter Rothschild

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Plans, Edward Larrabee Barnes & Associates with Peter Rothschild

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden plans, Edward Larrabee Barnes & Associates with Peter Rothschild

When considering the land on the west side of the garden, Barnes and Rothschild worked with Alistair Bevington, a trained architect working primarily in sculpture involving stained glass. Bevington was responsible for the design and construction of the Cowles Conservatory. Donated by Sage and John Cowles, the space would feature permanent and seasonal floral displays that highlighted both native and exotic plants. Bevington worked alongside Barnes and Rothschild to create a glass building in order to house these plants, while still featuring sculptural works and remaining consistent with the aesthetic of the park.

Cowles Conservatory, Final model for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 1988

Cowles Conservatory, final model for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 1988

Interior of the Cowles Conservatory with a view of Frank Gehry’s Standing Glass Fish, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, 10 September 1988

Interior of the Cowles Conservatory with a view of Frank Gehry’s Standing Glass Fish, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, September 10, 1988

Throughout all of the planning and construction, the architects worked with individual artists in order to create a space that assisted in the viewing of their sculptures. One of the more obvious examples of this collaboration can be seen when looking at Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry. Oldenburg and van Bruggen were asked to create a large-scale fountain that would be located centrally in the garden. The consideration of the location of this sculpture in relation to the rest of the park and the surrounding landscape, creates a monumental and iconic view for this artwork. Barnes and Rothschild not only considered the needs of the large-scale sculptures in their design, but also found ways to incorporate the environment in the viewing of smaller works. The location of George Segal’s Walking Man may draw viewers to the lonely figure walking along one of the garden’s paths.

View of Spoonbridge and Cherry with surrounding landscape, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, 10 September 1988

Spoonbridge and Cherry, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, September 10, 1988

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, New York Times article on Spoonbridge and Cherry, Page 106, 17 April 1988

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, New York Times article on Spoonbridge and Cherry, April 17, 1988

George Segal and Babe Davis with Walking Man, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, 10 September 1988

George Segal and Babe Davis with Walking Man, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, September 10, 1988

After the park was completed and ready for public viewing, the Walker hosted an opening-day ceremony on September 10, 1988. Once Friedman and Fisher performed the ribbon cutting, the public was invited to walk around the garden and partake in events inspired by the design of the park.

Martin Friedman and David Fisher performing the ribbon cutting, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, 10 September 1988

Martin Friedman and David Fisher performing the ribbon cutting, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, September 10, 1988

Educating the public on the sculpture garden through the creation of art and the interpretation of what they are seeing was a large emphasis of the 1988 opening festivities. The education program used inspiration from both the artworks and the landscape to create workshops for the public to participate in. One of the most popular workshops, Mini-Sculpture Gardens, provided each person with a square-foot box of soil that could then be turned into their own sculpture garden. During this workshop, students created mini-sculptures for their gardens and planted trees throughout their landscapes. The Sculpture Ahoy! workshop gathered inspiration from Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry and encouraged participants to create boats that could be sailed on the body of water surrounding the sculpture. Other workshops offered during the opening day included Sculpture Ahead, where participants were given a hat to create paper sculptures on, and Primary Flowers, in which students could spray paint white flowers with the primary colors. These workshops allowed participants to collaborate with one another, as well as the design of the park.

Mini-Sculpture Garden, Education Workshops, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, 10 September 1988

Mini-Sculpture Garden education workshops, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, September 10, 1988

Primary Flowers, Education Workshop, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, 10 September 1988

Primary Flowers education workshop, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, September 10, 1988

In support of this educational philosophy, a variety of musical artists were invited to perform during the opening day. The Minnesota Pop Orchestra, Moore by Four, and Preston Reed warmed up the Vineland Place stage for the featured performance. The Spoon Band with Charlie Mcquire and Pop Wagner offered an interactive performance for the public to participate in. Inspired by the Spoonbridge and Cherry, the band used wooden spoons in their songs to create a beat. They also provided viewers with spoons and instructions on how they could be used to tap along and follow the beat of the music.

Spoon Band-Charlie Maguire and Pop Wagner, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, 10 September 1988

Spoon Band-Charlie Maguire and Pop Wagner, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, September 10, 1988

Aside from the education workshops and musical performances, those who attended the 1988 opening day were invited to observe and interact with the sculptures. Due to the movement and curiosity evoked by Arikidea, Mark di Suvero’s 26-foot high installation was a crowd favorite. Many visitors took advantage of the suspended wooden platform that hangs down from the steel beams above and explored the industrial, yet airy, structure. Di Suvero was one of many artists present during the opening day that were available to offer reflections and insights regarding their work. In addition to di Suvero, artists such as Brower Hatcher, Frank Gehry, and Martin Puryear enjoyed the opening day festivities.

Crowds with Mark di Suervo’s Arikidea, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, 10 September 1988

Crowds with Mark di Suervo’s Arikidea, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, September 10, 1988

Mark di Suvero with the Daytons and Arikidea, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, 10 September 1988

Mark di Suvero with the Daytons and Arikidea, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Opening, September 10, 1988

The opening day of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden exemplified the main concept of why the park was created, as an outdoor space where the public could gather in celebration of the arts. During the opening day, the public was invited to partake in education workshops, musical performances, and of course, viewing the park. The archived photos and history that I have uncovered through my research show the success that collaboration had from an early idea to the development and opening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Action Alert: Stand up for the Sculpture Garden!

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 […]

View of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985–1988) in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Gift of Frederick R. Weisman in honor of his parents, William and Mary Weisman, 1988

View of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985–1988) in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Gift of Frederick R. Weisman in honor of his parents, William and Mary Weisman, 1988

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!

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