Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
FMG LogoFinal.jpg
Meijer Gardens October 2014 61 (Tropical Conservatory).jpg
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is located in Michigan
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Location within Michigan
Established1995 (1995)
Location1000 East Beltline Ave NE
Grand Rapids, Michigan
United States
Coordinates42°58′52″N 85°35′28″W / 42.981°N 85.591°W / 42.981; -85.591Coordinates: 42°58′52″N 85°35′28″W / 42.981°N 85.591°W / 42.981; -85.591
TypeArt Museum
Botanical Garden
Key holdingsIron Tree by Ai Weiwei[1]
Galileo's Wedge & archives of Beverly Pepper[2]
Collection size300
Visitors750,000 (2017)
CEODavid Hooker
CuratorJochen Wierich
ArchitectCox, Medendorp & Olson
Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
OwnerWest Michigan Horticultural Society

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a 158-acre (64 ha) botanical garden, art museum,[3] and outdoor sculpture park located in Grand Rapids Township, Michigan, United States. Opened in 1995, Meijer Gardens quickly established itself in the Midwest as a major cultural attraction jointly focused on horticulture and sculpture.[4]

Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park includes a large tropical conservatory, an 8-acre Japanese garden, major works of modern and contemporary sculpture on the grounds and indoors, along with a series of outdoor gardens and nature trails.

On its northern border, it neighbors Leonard Street, directly across from Forest Hills Northern campus shared by Northern Trails Upper Elementary School, Northern Hills Middle School, and Forest Hills Northern High School.

It is a well attended cultural site in Michigan, having attracted 750,000 visitors annually between 2015 - 2017.[5] Meijer Gardens has continued to grow their permanent collection of sculpture from major figures in Modern and Contemporary art[6] while building additional structures for indoor and outdoor gardens. In 2018, the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park was included as one of "Eleven of the World's Greatest Sculpture Parks" by Artsy.[7]


In the early 1980s, the West Michigan Horticultural Society, a non-profit organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan,[8] was searching for a nearby site in order to establish a botanical garden and conservatory.[9]

As early as 1986, a member of the Horticultural Society approached Frederik Meijer, (founder of Meijer grocery megastores), to request the donation of a parcel of land.[9] The site, which contained a stream and wetland areas, had originally been earmarked by Meijer for the construction of a new superstore.[9] However, an alternative location for the store was found, allowing the more environmentally sensitive lands to be used for the public garden.[9][10]

In January 1991, Meijer, Inc. donated 70.7 acres (28.6 ha) of land in Grand Rapids Township, Michigan to establish the new public garden.[citation needed] A $13 million capital campaign to develop the land into a public park was led by Earl Holton and additional support was provided by the Meijer Corporation’s vendors.[9] By 1993, Frederik Meijer and fellow Grand Rapids environmental philanthropist Peter Wege of Steelcase were walking the grounds of the early park, then known as the Michigan Botanic Garden, and making plans for the nature trail.[9]

Frederik and Lena Meijer, of the Meijer Corporation, were instrumental in supporting the development of the project through the donation of land, financing, and by providing their sculpture collection to the park. Renamed the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in their honor, the museum is commonly known as Meijer Gardens.

The Gardens provided an outlet for Fred Meijer's growing collection of large-scale sculpture from Marshall Fredericks and for Lena Meijer's love of plants and flowers.[11][12] Meijer Gardens first opened to the public on April 20, 1995.[13] The mission of the Gardens is to equally emphasize sculpture and horticulture, in honor of Frederik Meijer's objective of uniting fine art and the visual beauty of nature.

In its first 25 years of operation, Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has attracted more than 13 million visitors.[14]


Lena Meijer Conservatory


A key feature of Gardens is the Lena Meijer Conservatory, a five-story, 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) facility that supports tropical plants from around the world.[10] With rock landscapes by designer Philip diGiacomo and plant selections by garden designer Stephen Rosselet, the conservatory houses diverse tropical plants, including coconut palms from the Pacific, fig trees from India, exotic orchids from Central and South America, and Asiatic bamboo and banana trees.[15] Additional indoor gardens include a carnivorous plant house, an arid house for cacti and desert vegetation, and an area with a Victorian theme.[15]

Japanese Garden[edit]

Opened on June 10, 2015, the 8-acre Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden 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 design by Hoichi Kurisu, president and founder of Kurisu International, Inc., reflects this essence through a variety of horticultural elements, including zen-style and bonsai gardens, scenic bridges, waterfalls, and a tea house.[16] Kurisu's garden contains several contemporary sculptures by major international artists selected especially for the location. The Japanese Garden includes a ten-foot work in granite by respected contemporary artist Anish Kapoor.[16]

Nature trail[edit]

The Wege Nature Trail branches off from the garden area into a preserve of native Michigan trees and wetlands.

The Wege Nature Trail, a paved path that winds through a forested section of the property, aims to promote awareness of the various native ecosystems of West Michigan. It is connected to the Frey Boardwalk which leads to the natural wetlands. The trail provides sites for bird watching, areas of natural prairie and wetlands with a tadpole pond.

Woodland Shade garden[edit]

The Gwen Frostic Woodland Shade Garden, dedicated in June 1998, commemorates the influence of Gwen Frostic, a life-long Michigan resident, artist, author and businesswoman known for her naturalistic block prints of local flora and fauna. The garden features woodland plants including ferns, hostas, bleeding hearts, rhododendrons, and azaleas.[15]

Children's Garden[edit]

The Lena Meijer Children’s Garden opened in June 2004 and is one of the largest children’s gardens in the nation.[citation needed] 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.

Other features[edit]

Conservatory, Amphitheater, and surrounding landscape.

In 2003, two additional aspects of the garden were completed and opened to the public. The Michigan Farm Garden, with heirloom vegetables, orchards, and figurative animal sculptures, provides families with the opportunity to experience the context of a 1930s farm complete with a 100 year old barn and replica farmhouse from Lena (Rader) Meijer’s childhood, and the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater, an outdoor musical and theatrical venue with a covered stage and 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.[citation needed]

The outdoor gardens, by landscape designer James van Sweden of Washington, D.C., and garden designer Penelope Hobhouse of Sussex, England, feature four-season plantings.[citation needed] In September 1997 the Leslie E. Tassell English Perennial & Bulb Garden and the New American Garden were dedicated.

As part of the educational mission of the Gardens, the Peter M. Wege Library has reference books and periodicals on horticulture and sculpture.


Leonardo da Vinci's Horse: The American Horse by Nina Akamu. Bronze, 24 feet (7.3 m)l in height

Meijer Gardens includes a 30-acre (12 ha) outdoor sculptural park, which opened on May 16, 2002.

The museum has exhibited the work of world renowned artists including Jonathan Borofsky, Alexander Calder, Tony Smith, Anthony Caro, Antony Gormley, Mark di Suvero, Anish Kapoor, Jenny Holzer, Richard Hunt, Joan Miró, David Nash, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Keith Haring, Laura Ford, and Kenneth Snelson, among others.

Permanent collection[edit]

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park primarily collects the work of sculptors.[17] It also contains drawings, provided they were created by artists who identify as sculptors.[17] As of May 2015, the permanent collection contained over 300 artworks.[18] It features works by prominent British and American sculptors including Claes Oldenburg, Louise Bourgeois, Richard Serra, Barbara Hepworth, and Henry Moore, in addition to major works by the international artists Coosje van Bruggen, Ai Weiwei, Beverly Pepper, and Jaume Plensa.[19][20]

Fred and Lena Meijer purchased a second work by glass artist Dale Chihuly in 2009 as an addition to the permanent collection.[21]

In 2016, the museum acquired the archives of sculptor Beverly Pepper, over 900 works on paper.[17][5] Following the museum's acquisition of Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei, a major exhibition of his work was held at the Gardens in 2017.[22]

The collection contains 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.

Temporary exhibitions[edit]

The Sculpture Program of the Gardens features three temporary exhibitions annually. Featured exhibitions have included works by Andy Goldsworthy, Tom Otterness, Magdalena Abakanowicz, and George Rickey.

Seasonal events[edit]

Butterflies are Blooming, 2018

Meijer Gardens supports two large seasonal exhibition events, both started in 1995 when the facility first opened: The Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming, and Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World.

Butterflies Are Blooming is held annually in the Lena Meijer Conservatory from March 1 through April 30; it is one of the largest temporary butterfly exhibits in the nation, with thousands of tropical butterflies from Central America, South America, and Asia.[23] The butterfly exhibit is well attended and popular with visitors of all ages.[24][6]

Christmas and Holiday Traditions around the World takes place from November through the first week of January. The Gardens annual event includes the display of holiday items and symbols of more than 40 nations and cultures.[25] In 2012, the event reportedly offered "horse-drawn carriage rides" through the "candle-lit sculpture park".[26]



David Hooker serves as president and CEO at Meijer Gardens.[27]

In July 2019, the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park announced the hire of Jochen Wierich as the Curator of Sculpture and Exhibitions.[28] Wierlich was jointly appointed as curator at Meijer Gardens and as the Lena E. S. Meijer professor in art history at Aquinas College.[27] He was preceded by Joseph Becherer.[27]


The Lena Meijer Conservatory was designed by Cox, Medendorp and Olson,[10] and utilizes galvanized steel for the frame construction.[29][30]

In May 2019, the New York partners Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects were selected to re-envision and expand the facilities at Meijer Gardens, with the assistance of local partners Progressive AE and Owen-Ames-Kimball Co.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sharp, Sarah Rose (2017-05-11). "Weighing Ai Weiwei's Work Amid Butterflies and Botanical Life". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  2. ^ "Exhibition planned from sculptor Beverly Pepper's archives". The Seattle Times. 2018-01-06. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  3. ^ Kaczmarczyk, Jeffrey (2010-04-20). "Frederik Meijer Gardens among 100 most visited museums in world". mlive. Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  4. ^ "Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park: A Garden Oasis Among Urban Development". Western Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. 2019-08-22. Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  5. ^ a b Stapley-Brown, Victoria (October 6, 2017). "Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park launches $115m expansion". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  6. ^ a b Bechiri, Holly (2019-02-02). "Art Review: 'A National Treasure: Fred Meijer, His Collection and Legacy'". Grand Rapids Magazine. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  7. ^ Lebowitz, Rachel (2018-04-08). "11 of the World's Greatest Sculpture Parks, from Seattle to Oslo". Artsy. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  8. ^ "West Michigan Horticultural Society Inc - Nonprofit Explorer". ProPublica. Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Smith, Bill; Ten Harmsel, Larry (2009). Fred Meijer: Stories of His Life. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 9780802864604.
  10. ^ a b c Bishop Eckert, Kathryn (2018-07-17). Esperdy, Gabrielle; Kingsley, Karen (eds.). "Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park". SAH Archipedia. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  11. ^ "Meijer Gardens presents a landmark exhibition celebrating Fred Meijer's collection and legacy". The Rapidian. January 21, 2019. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  12. ^ Meijer, Hank (November 2019). "Fred & Lena Meijer: Leaving the World a Little Better" (PDF). Michigan History. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  13. ^ Wynder, Ehren (2020-04-20). "Meijer Gardens celebrates 25 years". Grand Rapids Business Journal. Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  14. ^ "Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 25th Anniversary | Meijer Gardens". Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  15. ^ a b c "Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park - GuideStar Profile". Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  16. ^ a b Baker, Brandy (July 21, 2015). "Senses awakened at new Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden in Grand Rapids". Detroit News. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  17. ^ a b c Norris, K.D. (2018-02-23). "Meijer Gardens' Beverly Pepper exhibit highlights growing artistic research collection". Wyoming / Kentwood Now. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  18. ^ Peregoy, Beau (May 31, 2015). "Peek Inside the New Japanese Garden at Meijer Gardens". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  19. ^ Wynder, Ehren (2020-04-20). "Celebrate Meijer Gardens' 25th anniversary virtually". Grand Rapids Magazine. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  20. ^ "Exhibition planned from sculptor Beverly Pepper's archives". The Seattle Times. 2018-01-06. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  21. ^ "Frederik Meijer Gardens obtains second glass sculpture by artist Dale Chihuly". The Grand Rapids Press. 2009-02-26. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  22. ^ Sharp, Sarah Rose (2017-05-11). "Weighing Ai Weiwei's Work Amid Butterflies and Botanical Life". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  23. ^ Cunningham, Angela (February 28, 2020). "'Butterflies Are Blooming' returns to Meijer Gardens for 25th year". Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  24. ^ Ferguson, Christa (2020-02-27). "It's back: Butterflies Are Blooming at Meijer Gardens". Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  25. ^ Sarnacki, Megan (November 25, 2019). "Snow & Symbols: Meijer Gardens explores the importance of holidays across the globe with cultural symbols". Revue. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  26. ^ "Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park hosts annual 'Christmas and Holiday Traditions' exhibition". The Associated Press. November 12, 2012. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  27. ^ a b c Burr, Alyssa (2019-07-17). "New Aquinas College art history professor to serve as curator at Meijer Gardens". mlive. Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  28. ^ Center, Patrick. "Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park hires Curator of Sculpture and Exhibitions". Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  29. ^ "A Look at Frederik Meijer Gardens 20 Years Later". Architect Magazine. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  30. ^ Dubey, Parul (May 7, 2018). "2018 Excellence Awards Showcase Galvanized Steel's Durability, Longevity, and Sustainability". Informed Infrastructure. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  31. ^ Martinez, Shandra (2017-03-23). "Meijer Gardens unveils $115M expansion plans". mlive. Retrieved 2020-05-21.

External links[edit]