Minnesota is known for many things: its lakes, its agriculture, its “nice”. But two resources, in particular, seem to bring out the best in our state: its cultural community and its parks and recreation. And when those two things combine, magic happens.
So when the Walker Art Center hooked arms with the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, amazingness ensued. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden underwent an 18-month-long renovation and the results are fantastic. Some existing pieces were refreshed, some new pieces were introduced. When it all came together, the beloved landmark is better than ever and a place for everyone—young and old, from all walks of life—to come and enjoy the sights and sounds, culture and activities.
Of the more than 60 pieces that now live in the Sculpture Garden, 18 are new with the renovation. Many are works from internationally renowned artists who form a new, very diverse generation of designers in the garden. The following are some of the new installations.
Hahn/Cock by Katrina Fritsch
We’ve all heard the old idiom, “Let’s address the giant elephant in the room.” Well, let’s address the giant rooster in the garden. There’s no missing it. Katharina Fritsch’s Hahn/Cock weighs nearly 8,000 pounds and sits atop a 30,000-pound base. It’s big, it’s blue and it’s completely captivating up close and from a distance.
Empire by Eva Rothschild
This giant spidery arch just dares you to be its next contender. People of every age try to conquer its zigzagged legs to reach the top of this red, black and green empire.
Black Vessel for a Saint by Theaster Gates
Taller than 20 feet, this circular temple houses a statue of Saint Laurence, the patron saint of librarians. The statue was salvaged from a church in Chicago—the artist’s hometown.
Hephaestus by Matthew Monahan
He’s an interesting—almost fun—approach to the human form. He looks confused and confusing, but he seems like a friendly giant. Several kids were attracted to this piece.
September Room by Mark Manders
Combining strange (heads trapped between boards) with familiar (chairs and a record player), this installation seems to provide a glimpse into the artist’s imagination.
La Soledad by KCHO
The wobbly paddle legs illustrate the instability and challenges associated with travel and the solitude of a personal journey.
To view additional images of the sculptures featured at the Minneapolis Sculpture Gardens, click the thumbnails below.
Nature Becomes Nurture
In addition to a couple hands full of new art pieces, Sculpture Garden guests will notice that the natural environment of the park got a makeover as well. A thoughtful, dynamic ecosystem was created, which will support the long-term stability of the park. Native grasses and perennial plants frame the art, and along with trees and shrubs, they offer a nurturing habitat for birds, butterflies, and other friends in nature.
Another thing Minnesotans can be known for is an opposition to change. But sometimes change is good.
In the case of the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry, change was great. The sculpture itself stayed in the exact same spot, but it did get a fresh paint job. And the pond surrounding the piece of art had eroded over time, so it was renovated, and an 80-gallon underground water collection tank was installed. This cistern will recycle more than 4 million gallons of rainwater every year. The Walker, Minneapolis Parks and Recreation, and Mississippi Watershed Management Organization worked together to build a much-needed irrigation system in the park. This system will use the captured rainwater to sprinkle the garden and the ball fields neighboring the garden just to the west. Not only will this reduce water waste overall, it will greatly reduce pollution in the Mississippi River basin as well.
When it comes to inclusiveness in the garden, change is very good. The Sculpture Garden is now fully accessible on all corners so guests in wheelchairs and those with small children in strollers can easily navigate the grounds.
Volunteer tour guides at the Sculpture Garden all agree that the most-asked question they hear is, “Where is the fish?” They’re referring, of course, to Frank Gehry’s iconic Standing Glass Fish sculpture. The answer is: It’s gone. But don’t fret, you can still visit it at its new home in the Weisman Art Center over at the University of Minnesota campus.
WORTH A REMINDER
Artist-designed Mini Golf
For the fifth consecutive year, mini golf is open to the public at The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. But this isn’t just any mini golf course. All holes are wonderfully designed by very talented artists. This year presents four new holes and fourteen fun fan favorites. Tickets are available at the clubhouse.
Some of the playful mini golf hole designs can be viewed by clicking on the thumbnails below.
The Sculpture Garden is open daily from 6 am until 12 midnight.
Guided tours are available on Saturday and Sunday at 12 noon and Thursdays at 6 pm.
Post your favorite sculptures to social media in no time; the Sculpture Garden has free Wi-Fi throughout the entire grounds.
Esker Grove is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. The patio is lovely. Plans are being considered for additional, less formal food options in the garden.
The shop inside the Walker is open to the public and sells great art-inspired gifts. All proceeds go to support art and education at the Walker.
Picnics are encouraged. Leashed dogs are always welcome, there is even a doggie water fountain.
So grab the family, some friends, and don’t forget the dog, and make your way over to The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and enjoy this newly-refreshed and cherished Minnesota destination.