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Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Updated on April 13, 2015

Enjoy the Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis for FREE!

On a warm sunny day in Minnesota, you can't beat an outing to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Spanning over 11 acres with 40 pieces of permanent artwork on the display, the sculpture garden has a little of something for everyone. And best of all, it's FREE.

During these tough economic times when we are all looking for a way to save money, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a great choice for families and even couples that want to have a romantic picnic and take in all the sites.

Join me for a walk around the garden (clock-wise tour starting at the spoonbridge and cherry)....

Garden History & Information

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a collaborative effort of the Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board who maintain the garden grounds and provide public information AND the Walker Art Center who oversee the artwork exhibits, performances and educational activities that take place in the garden. For the past 75 years, a garden in some form has sat in the present garden location. However, it was in 1988 that the collaborative effort between the recreation board and the Walker Art Center began and the Sculpture Garden was born on a 7.5 acre plot of land. In 1992, the garden was expanded to cover 11 acres making it the largest urban sculpture display in the country. Since it opened back in 1988, more than 6.3 million visitors have seen the iconic artworks in the sculpture garden.

The garden hosts many free events during the summertime months. For more information about music events and other performances, please visit the events page on the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden website.

On A Personal Note - Perhaps my love of the sculpture garden was born during my college stint at the University of Minnesota from 1988 - 1992. Back then, we all clamored to see the showpiece of the garden - the big cherry on a spoon. It has become a symbol of Minneapolis and I can't imagine the city without it.

Spoonbridge and Cherry - By Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen (1985-1988)

The Spoonbridge and Cherry take centerstage in the sculpture garden - both physically and metaphorically. Claes Oldenburg (known for constructing oversized pieces of ordinary objects) collaborated with his wife Coosje to design a sculptural and water element for the new sculpture garden. Claes contributed the spoon element while Coosje added the cherry to the spoon and suggested the Linden seed-shaped pond (the sidewalks are lined with Linden trees).

The gigantic 52 foot long spoon (354 x 618 x 162 in.) was constructed of aluminum and stainless steel at two shipbuilding yards in New England - one in Maine and one in Rhode Island. The spoon itself weighs about 5,800 pounds while the cherry weighs a whopping 1,200 pounds. Gift of Frederick R. Weisman in honor of his parents, William and Mary Weisman, 1988.

As expected, the sculpture became the showpiece and beloved icon of the garden. When viewed from the south, the Minneapolis skyline provides the perfect backdrop whether you are there in summer when a gleaming, fine mist flows off the cherry stem or in the winter when the Minnesota snow provides an ice cream looking base.

Winter Spoonbridge & Cherry

Winter Spoonbridge & Cherry
Winter Spoonbridge & Cherry

Weddings at the Sculpture Garden - A popular spot for couples to get wedding photographs taken!

A fabulous day for photos!

A small crowd of people gathered to watch a photographer at work the day that we went for our latest Sculpture Garden adventure. As you can see from the photographs, the bridesmaids and bride posed with their flowers in front of the big cherry and spoon with the city skyline in the background. The groomsmen dressed in their tuxedos and tennis shoes patiently waited in the shade for their turn at wedding photographs.

Fortunately for everyone involved, it was a beautiful day at the garden. I'm not sure if their wedding ceremony was held at the park as well, but in any case, they will have some great photos to cherish for years to come!

Molecule - Mark di Suvero (1977-1983)

steel, paint

height: 456 in.

Gift of Honeywell Inc. in honor of Harriet and Edson W. Spencer, 1991

One of several structures by Mark di Suvero in the sculpture garden, this gigantic red-painted structure is constructed from enormous steel beams that form a three-legged tripod. The legs meet at the center where two large flat disks mark the juncture. It stands over 36 feet tall.

Picnic in the Garden

I LOVE picnics so what could be better than going to one of my favorite gardens to hang out and have a picnic? Just swing by Panera, Quizno's or Bruegger's Bagels to pick up some sandwiches or pack a cooler/lunch bag at home. We bought some delicious sandwiches at Brueggers as well as a pile of gourmet cookies that included macadamia nut and peanut butter cup varieties. There is plenty of room to spread out a large personalized fleece blanket, soak up some sun, read a magazine, and of course, people watch.

The last time we were at the garden, we chose a spot near the molecule and garden arbor (see the photo to the right). It was a perfect day and we had a fantastic time!!

Alene Grossman Memorial Arbor and Flower Garden

Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1988

The vine-covered arbor and flower garden, loving sympathy gifts of the N. Bud Grossman family, commemorate the ideals, achievements, and memory of Alene Lorberbaum Grossman (1922-1988), who harbored a deep love of natural beauty and spent much of her life working for the public good.

In the summer months, this area of the sculpture garden is in full bloom with all kinds of perennials such as rudbeckia, heliopsis, bee's balm, salvia, daylilies, clematis, coneflowers and so much more. As a gardener myself, this is one of my favorite areas to stroll around and to sit on a bench to relax in the sculpture garden.

Without Words - Judith Shea (1988)

bronze, marble, limestone

78 x 80 x 118 in. overall

Gift of Jeanne and Richard Levitt, 1988

Judith Shea created three distinct pieces (a rumpled flowing raincoat, the bottom of an Egyptian style molded head, and a couture 1950s style dress) that seem to be carrying on a dialogue about modern life and antiquity.

The Spinner - By Alexander Calder (1964)

aluminum, steel, paint

overall 235 x 351 x 351 in.

Gift of Dayton Hudson Corporation, Minneapolis, 1971

This fun structure spins freely in the wind making it difficult to photograph even on days with a gentle breeze. It reminds us Minnesotans of fishing lures.

Octopus - By Alexander Calder (1964)

steel, paint

overall 116 1/2 x 111 x 67 1/4 in.

Gift of the T.B. Walker Foundation, 1968

Prophecy of the Ancients - By Brower Hatcher (1988)

cast stone, stainless steel, steel, bronze, aluminum, ceramic

height: 202 in.; diameter: 246 in.

Gift of the Lilly family, 1989

Six mock-Egyptian columns support a futuristic dome that is constructed from thousands of flexible wire polyhedrons. Within the wire dome, Brower Hatcher embedded numerous common objects such as a ladder, a chair, random letters and more.

Picking Cherries - If you stand just right, you can get a clever photograph!

Arikidea - By Mark di Suvero (1977-1982)

Cor-Ten steel, steel, wood

316 1/2 x 510 x 450 in.

Gift of Judy and Kenneth Dayton, 1985

The name of this sculpture stems from the word arachnid or spider....a creature that creator Mark di Suvero admires for its ability to create structures in space. This monumental sculpture stands more than 26 feet high, 42 feet wide, and weighs about 6,000 lbs. A favorite of kids visiting the garden, this structure has a wooden swing suspended from its center that invites kids and adults alike to take a ride in the gentle breeze.

Four Sculptures in the Outdoor Gallery

Clockwise Around Photograph:

Hare on Bell on Portland Stone Piers, 1983

By Barry Flanagan

bronze, limestone

102 x 112 x 75 in. overall

Collection Walker Art Center, Gift of Anne Larsen Simonson and Glen and Marilyn Nelson, 1987

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Prometheus Strangling the Vulture II, 1944/1953

By Jacques Lipchitz

bronze

91-3/4 x 90 x 57 in.

Collection Walker Art Center, Gift of the T.B. Walker Foundation, 1956

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Ordovician Pore, 1989

By Tony Cragg

granite, steel

96 x 90 x 124 in. overall

Gift of Joanne and Philip Von Blon, 1989

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Reclining Mother and Child, 1960-1961

By Henry Moore

bronze

90 x 35 1/2 x 52 in.

Gift of the T. B. Walker Foundation, 1963

Take A Video Tour of the Garden

Woodrow - By Deborah Butterfield (1988)

bronze

99 x 105 x 74 in.

Gift of Harriet and Edson W. Spencer, 1988

Deborah Butterfield, who rides and trains horses on her Montana ranch created the Woodrow sculpture by casting wood branches, tree bark and straw in bronze and then welding the pieces together. Like many garden goers, my husband and I thought the horse was constructed of driftwood, but much to our surprise, we discovered that it is indeed bronze.

Google Map for the Mpls Sculpture Garden - Plan your visit and get directions here!

A markerMinneapolis Sculpture Garden -
1750 Hennepin Ave
get directions

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    • Bakersgas profile image

      Bakersgas 5 years ago

      Excellent lens, I enjoy seeing other uses for welding skills besides the commercial uses that most everyone is familiar with. The art is awesome!!

    • profile image

      dessertlover 6 years ago

      I love the Mpls sculpture garden....you've done a great job with the art and the flower garden presentation.

    • profile image

      LighttheSpark 6 years ago

      fantastic lens, almost as good as being there (on a sunny day!) love the cherry and the spoon - I love sculpture parks and fell in love with one over here in Yorkshire, UK

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      Great photos of a beautiful park. I especially enjoyed the "picking cherries" photos. Featured this lens in my Seattle Olympic Sculpture Park lens. It was fun to see works in both by some of the same artists.

    • Dmarcotte profile image

      Dmarcotte 6 years ago

      What a great lens - The pictures were great. I can't wait for spring so I can take my kids to the sculpture garden.

      www.thingstodowithkidsmn.com

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image

      squid-pinkchic18 6 years ago

      I have to say that I've never been there either. It's one of the most talked about places in Minnesota though, so I think one of these days, it's going to be a must-do on my list. Gorgeous lens, great pics!

    • ewguru lm profile image

      ewguru lm 6 years ago

      I got relatives in MN

    • raegal75 profile image

      raegal75 6 years ago

      I've lived in Minnesota my whole life, and have never been to the sculpture garden! I think it's about time I get out there.

    • ArtConscience profile image

      ArtConscience 6 years ago

      This is a great lens. Thank you for sharing it. I've never been to Minneapolis but now you've given me good reason to. Have you seen The Cloak of Conscience, by Anna Chromy? - would it fit in well there, or is it too traditional do you think?

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 7 years ago

      I like Minneapolis very much and have visited a couple of times. Unfortunately, I did not know about the scupture gardens. Love your photos.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Gee, I wished I had known about this garden when we were there in 1996. Jimmi Fallon said on Late Night that Minneapolis ranked first in the smartest number of people. Everyone in the house said I should not believe everything I hear on TV.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 8 years ago from USA

      What a lovely place to go!

    • profile image

      bdkz 8 years ago

      Beautiful!