Sculpture Garden could get a meadow makeover

Credit: Oslund and Associates

The iconic Minneapolis Sculpture Garden could see a renewal of its historic wetlands as part of its $10 million makeover.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, in partnership with the Walker Art Center, is looking to reconstruct the sculpture garden adjacent to the museum to better its accessibility and reduce costly maintenance, among other goals. The Park Board expects the approximately 12-month construction to begin in August.

The garden, known for the “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture, has failing infrastructure, including deteriorated and inadequate stormwater systems, walkways and retaining walls. The project will also improve the landmark’s accessibility and energy efficiency.

Dana Murdoch, a Park Board project manager, said the community advisory committee involved with the project has thrown its support behind a new layout for the sculpture garden that involves installing meadow-like lawn on the north side, pictured below. Faced with stormwater issues, the garden would get several circular lawns, along with natural-looking plants, on the lowest part of the site.

The project would actually return part of the garden to its historical roots. Before it was a popular tourist attraction, the garden was actually wetlands and swamp, Murdoch said. 

It would be up to the adjacent Walker Art Center to use the lawns like a canvas, spreading sculptures throughout the new layout. 

The conservatory would also see significant changes. The structure’s heating and maintenance costs have plagued the Park Board. At the same time, the committee is also weighing improvements to its outdated bathroom facilities and sinking floor, Murdoch said. Several options, from transforming the conservatory to more of a park gazebo to simply updating its floors and heating system are still on the table. 

The final major improvement to the garden would be opening up its edges for pedestrians and vehicle traffic, especially on the west and north sides where more programming and light rail will require better entryways. 

The reconstruction will largely take place next spring and summer, Murdoch said. A Walker spokesman said in a statement that they’ll better understand how project construction will affect events like Rock the Garden and Artist-Design Mini Golf in the next few months.

The Park Board received up to $10 million in public funding, including $8.5 million of state bonding funds that the Legislature appropriated last May. In a Dec. 3 meeting, the Park Board also accepted $1.5 million from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization for innovative stormwater management work.

Last August, the Park Board announced that Minneapolis-based landscape architecture firm Oslund and Associates, along with design team Snow Kreilich Architects, would design the reconstruction project.

The 11-acre site houses over 40 works of art, including the iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry” by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, and has hosted more than 8.5 million visitors.

The final project committee meeting is slated for Feb. 23 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Walker Art Center where Oslund and Associates are expected to present a final conceptual design plan and costs. A public hearing is tentatively planned for March 4.

 

 

The community advisory committee unanimously favored a layout with meadow on the north side of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Rendering from Oslund and Associates