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You're invited! Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Grand Reopening is June 3

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden main alleeRendering shows the garden's main allee looking toward the iconic "Spoonbridge and Cherry." Courtesy oslund.and.assoc.

Join us for the unveiling of
a completely reconstructed garden
and new artworks.

The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) and Walker Art Center announced the reopening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden on June 3, 2017, with a series of celebratory events and activities including a ribbon cutting ceremony at 12 noon. 

First created through the vision of late Walker director emeritus Martin Friedman nearly 30 years ago as a partnership between the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was among the first major public/private urban sculpture parks of its kind in the United States and has served as a model for such parks nationwide. The collaboration between Friedman and then Park Board Superintendent David Fisher produced a remarkable artistic destination. Today the Sculpture Garden is one of the crown jewels of the award-winning Minneapolis park system, uniting two of Minnesota’s most cherished resources—its parks and its cultural life—and home to the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

“The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is one of the best public spaces in America and a prime example of the potential of innovative, effective partnerships,” said MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller.

“This is a once-in-a-generation moment for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and our pioneering civic partnership, and a recommitment to the Walker’s mission of cross-disciplinary programming and community engagement,” said Walker Executive Director Olga Viso.

After nearly three decades and more than nine million visitors, the Sculpture Garden’s infrastructure needed to be reconstructed in a sustainable manner to serve visitors now and for generations to come. Thanks to the support of 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 the park, which includes new infrastructure, irrigation, walkways, retaining walls, and other physical assets. In addition, the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization provided $1.5 million for innovative stormwater management systems in the project. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Reconstruction Project launched in tandem with updates to the Walker’s campus, both physical and digital, including a new website launching May 25, a new plaza and entrance, an expanded front lobby, the destination restaurant Esker Grove, a more pedestrian-friendly Vineland Place, improved accessibility, and a landscaped, art-filled hillside.

View of Cowles PavilionRendering shows a view through the renovated Cowles Pavilion toward the garden's four "outdoor galleries." Courtesy oslund.and.assoc.

These projects allowed the Walker to build on the 40-plus artworks already located in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and on the Walker hillside with new commissions, green spaces, a new entry, and enhanced city streetscapes. Favorite artworks will return along with the addition of 18 new pieces by artists from Minnesota and around the globe. In total, there will be 60 artworks selected by Olga Viso and her team of visual arts curators, installed across the 19-acres of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Walker. More than 40 individuals, families, and existing acquisition funds provided generous support to enable the Walker to commission and acquire the new art works.

Six commissioned works—by artists Nairy Baghramian (Iran), Frank Big Bear (US), Theaster Gates (US), Mark Manders (The Netherlands), Philippe Parreno (France), and Aaron Spangler (US)—will be joined by works from Tony Cragg, Sam Durant, Katharina Fritsch, Gary Hume, Robert Indiana, Kcho, Liz Larner, Sol LeWitt, Matthew Monahan, Eva Rothschild, Kiki Smith, and Monika Sosnowska. The selection of artists brings a range of diverse voices from nine different countries, increases the number of women artists represented, and includes many notable career firsts. These selections bring new generational perspectives on several genres of work that distinguished the garden when it first opened, including figurative bronze statuary, modern abstraction, and site-specific sculptures that invite public interaction or have a utilitarian purpose. A highlight in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is Katharina Fritsch’s ultramarine blue rooster Hahn/Cock (2013/2017) standing more than 20 feet tall.

Katharina Fritsch, rendering of "Hahn/Cock"Katharina Fritsch, rendering of Hahn/Cock, 2015 © Katharina Fritsch / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery Photo credit: Andrei Dureika Collection Walker Art Center; Purchased with funds provided by the Pohlad Family Foundation, the Frederick R. Weisman Collection of Art, the Wilf Family Foundation, the Duncan and Nivin MacMillan Foundation, and the T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2017

The project also allowed the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to build on the great architecture and landscape designs of Edward Larrabee Barnes, Peter Rothschild, Michael Van Valkenburgh, and Barbara Stauffacher Solomon with the contemporary visions of Tom Oslund and Julie Snow. Designs for the Sculpture Garden and Walker take advantage of the latest sustainable technologies. Within the Sculpture Garden, more than 300 new trees have been planted, and a new water reuse system, centered around an 80,000-gallon underground cistern, will irrigate the Sculpture Garden site, keeping more than four million gallons of runoff out of storm sewers each year. The Sculpture Garden’s north end will also feature a meadow with native plants that help absorb runoff. The Walker’s main entrance now features a green roof, a green streetscape along Hennepin Avenue and additional trees planted along the hillside. These infrastructure and landscape updates install sustainable, eco-friendly features that will improve the space’s aesthetics, accessibility, and long-term stability.

This project, the largest and most comprehensive work initiated in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden since it opened in 1988, required the full closure of the park to the public until the reopening celebration on June 3. The Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board kick off the festivities from June 1-10 with free Walker gallery admission and a variety of programs and events in the Sculpture Garden and across the Walker, and continues throughout the summer.

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