Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
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|Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park|
|Type||Sculpture park and botanic garden|
|Location||Grand Rapids Township, Michigan|
|Area||132 acres (53 ha)|
|Operated by||West Michigan Horticultural Society|
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a 158-acre (64 ha) botanical garden and outdoor sculpture park located in Grand Rapids Township, Kent County, Michigan, United States. Commonly referred to as "Meijer Gardens", it rapidly became one of the most significant sculpture experiences in the midwestern USA and is gradually earning a reputation as a cultural site of global significance. In April 2005 The Wall Street Journal wrote that "there's nothing quite like Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park this side of the Kroller-Muller Museum and Sculpture Park in The Netherlands".
In May 2009 it was listed as one of the "30 Must-See Museums" in the world in 1,000 Places to See before You Die. It is the second-largest Michigander tourist attraction and is a featured venue of ArtPrize, which is the largest artistic competition whose winners are decided by public vote. In 2014 it acquired Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei and opened a Japanese Garden of 8 acres that cost $22 million.
Meijer Gardens opened to the public on April 20, 1995 through the generosity of Frederik and Lena Meijer, the spouses behind the Meijer Corporation, who donated money, land, and their whole sculptural collection to the Gardens.
In January 1991 Meijer, Inc. donated 70.7 acres (28.6 ha) of land in Grand Rapids Township, Kent County, Michigan for the Gardens' site. At the same time, Frederik and Lena Meijer donated their whole sculptural collection to it. The "Michigan Botanic Garden", as the project was then denominated, was renamed the "Frederik Meijer Gardens" in honor of its major benefactor.
The signature distinction of the Gardens is to equally emphasize sculpture and horticulture, in satisfaction of Frederik Meijer's objective of uniting human visual fine art and the visual beauty of nature.
It is presently the second most popular cultural site in Michigan, having 600,000 visitors annually, and private donations almost wholly fund it. The Gardens include the largest tropical conservatory in Michigan; three indoor thematic gardens; a Japanese Garden of 8 acres; various outdoor gardens, natural trails, and a boardwalk; sculptural galleries and permanent sculptures; a library; an audiovisual theater; a café and gift shop; and classrooms and meeting rooms. Both indoors and outdoors, the whole property is fully handicap accessible.
In its first decade of operation, the Gardens have attracted more than 3 million visitors. The Gardens celebrated its 15th anniversary on April 20, 2010. On May 7, 2010, the Gardens welcomed the six millionth visitor.
The Lena Meijer Conservatory at Meijer Gardens is a five-story, 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) facility featuring rock landscapes by designer Philip diGiacomo and plant selections by garden designer Stephen Rosselet. The conservatory houses tropical plants from around the world, including coconut palms from the Pacific, fig trees from India, exotic orchids from Central and South America, Asiatic bamboo and banana trees. Additional indoor gardens include the nation's most comprehensive carnivorous plant house, arid house, featuring Saguaro cacti, and Victorian conservatory.
Opened on June 10, 2015, the Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden of 8 acres furthers the organization’s dual mission of horticulture and sculpture. In one of the most revered horticultural styles internationally, the Japanese Garden is in the northeast corner of the 132-acre property and demonstrates the essence of the Japanese tradition of tranquility, simplicity, and beauty. The design re-imagined pre-existing features of the land: water, variation in elevation, and quietude; by a combination of cultivated and naturalistic areas.
The artful design by Hoichi Kurisu, president and founder of Kurisu International, Inc., reflects this essence through a variety of horticultural elements, including zen, moss, bonsai gardens, scenic bridges, waterfalls, and a tea house. Also included are contemporary sculptures by major international artists whose aesthetic and form harmonize with the space.
One of the sculptures is a major work "imane stinkt" by Anish Kapoor, one of the most acclaimed contemporary artists. It is one of the few works in granite the artist has produced. Circular units on the front surface of the sculpture reflect and enhance the surrounding environment while its quietude encourages meditation. AE and Owen Ames Kimball provided architectural, engineering, and construction management support.
The outdoor gardens, by internationally acclaimed landscape designer James van Sweden of Washington, D.C., and garden designer Penelope Hobhouse of Sussex, England, feature four-season plantings. In September 1997 the Leslie E. Tassell English Perennial & Bulb Garden and the New American Garden were dedicated.
The Wege Nature Trail is a paved path that winds through a forested section of the property to promote awareness of the various native ecosystems of West Michigan. It is connected to the Frey Boardwalk which leads to the natural wetlands. Featured on these walks are sites for bird watching, areas of natural prairie, a tadpole pond, and beautiful vistas.
The Gwen Frostic Woodland Shade Garden, dedicated in June 1998, commemorates the influence of that famous naturalistic artist and author and features woodland plants including ferns, hostas, bleeding hearts, rhododendrons, and azaleas.
In May 2003, the Gardens opened the Michigan Farm Garden of 3-acre (1.2 ha) for families to experience gardens of heirloom vegetables, orchards, and figurative animal sculptures, in the context of a farm of the 1930s, completed by a barn that is 100 years and replicates the farmhouse of Lena (Rader) Meijer’s childhood.
The Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater opened in June 2003. The outdoor musical and theatrical venue features a covered stage that satisfies symphonic standards and can accommodate almost any musical performance. As a garden itself, the Amphitheater features tiered lawn seating for 1,900 persons. Past musicians featured in the Amphitheater include Harry Connick Jr., B.B. King, Sheryl Crow, the Steve Miller Band, and Wynton Marsalis.
The Lena Meijer Children’s Garden opened in June 2004 and is one of the largest children’s gardens in the nation. This garden is a unique creation of an enchanted world of plants, gardens, sculpture, and nature, including creative and interactive areas, on 5 acres (2.0 ha). Woodland tree houses and a log cabin, an interactive water garden, a butterfly maze, a sensory garden, and many other elements are featured within this most enchanting of children’s gardens in the Midwest.
Meijer Gardens includes a 30-acre (12 ha) outdoor sculptural park, which opened on May 16, 2002. It features more than 170 sculptures by world renowned artists including Magdalena Abakanowicz, Jonathan Borofsky, Alexander Calder, Tony Smith, Anthony Caro, Anthony Gormley, Mark di Suvero, Anish Kapoor, Jenny Holzer, Richard Hunt, Auguste Rodin, Joan Miro, Louise Bourgeois, Ai WeiWei, Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg, Marshall Fredericks, David Nash, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Keith Haring, Dale Chihuly, Laura Ford, and Kenneth Snelson, among others. The collection includes numerous outdoor monumental sculptures throughout the property and also indoors in the conservatory, specialty gardens, and gallery.
Among the many highlights for visitors is The American Horse, sculpted by Nina Akamu as a homage to the original commission to Leonardo da Vinci of the Duke of Milan, as well as works by Auguste Rodin and Degas in the Victorian Conservatory.
The Sculpture Program of the Gardens features three temporary exhibitions annually. Featured exhibitions have included works by Andy Goldsworthy, Tom Otterness, Magdalena Abakanowicz, George Rickey, and Jaume Plensa.
Every year, Meijer Gardens features two of its largest exhibitions: The Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming, and Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World.
Butterflies Are Blooming Butterflies Are Blooming began in 1995 and is open every year from March 1 through April 30. It is the largest temporary butterfly exhibit in the nation, with thousands of tropical butterflies from Central and South America and Asia on display in the Lena Meijer Conservatory. This is the largest exhibit of the Gardens, which boasts more than 150,000 visitors annually.
Christmas and Holiday Traditions around the World Started in 1995 as an effort to share how Christmas is celebrated around the world, every November through the first week of January, the Gardens embraces the decorations, music, and food of more than 40 nations and cultures and 300,000 lights twinkling indoors and out. Family activities, carriage rides, and entertainment occur during weekends and Tuesday nights. The exhibit is a tradition with more than 75,000 visitors from around the nation annually.
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