Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is one of Minnesota's crown jewels and its centerpiece, the Spoonbridge and Cherry, has become a Minnesota icon. The Sculpture Garden is essentially a free museum in a park. Welcoming residents and tourists alike, the Sculpture Garden is a valuable economic, educational, and cultural asset for the state.

After 22 years and more than 7.2 million visitors, the Sculpture Garden's infrastructure has deteriorated and some of its plant life has reached the end of its natural life cycle. The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, with the full support of the Walker Art Center, is pursuing state bonding to repair and renovate this unique state asset.



Standing Glass Fish, 1986

wood, glass, steel, silicone, Plexiglas, rubber
264 x 168 x 102 in.
Gift of Anne Pierce Rogers in honor of her grandchildren, Anne and Will Rogers, 1986

Ever since visitors watched its miraculous birth in the Walker's lobby--pieced together scale by scale by artisans for the exhibition of Frank Gehry's work here in 1986--the Standing Glass Fish has become a beloved icon in the city's cultural life. The 22-foot creature waited two years before being carefully disassembled and transported across the street to its permanent habitat: a fantastic lily pond among the Mexican fan palms and calamondin orange trees of the crystalline Cowles Conservatory.

One of the most innovative architects practicing today, Gehry is known for using ordinary materials such as raw plywood and chain-link fencing in his boldly artistic designs. The new Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the striking Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum here in Minneapolis are two recent examples of his unique architectural vision. The figure of the fish--a fond remembrance of the giant carp his Jewish grandmother would leave swimming in the bathtub each week to use for her Friday-night gefilte fish--has been a recurring motif in Gehry's work. He has used it for his whimsical lamps, in the design for a conference room, and as a notational element in his architectural drawings.

Claes Oldenburg is best known for his ingenious, oversized renditions of ordinary objects, like the giant "soft" three-way plug and overturned bag of french fries in the Walker's own collection. He and Coosje van Bruggen, his wife and collaborator, had already created a number of large-scale public sculptures, including the Batcolumn in Chicago, when they were asked to design a fountain-sculpture for the planned Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The spoon had appeared as a motif in a number of Oldenburg's drawings and plans over the years, inspired by a novelty item (a spoon resting on a glob of fake chocolate) he had acquired in 1962. Eventually the utensil emerged--in humorously gigantic scale--as the theme of the Minneapolis project. Van Bruggen contributed the cherry as a playful reference to the Garden's formal geometry, which reminded her of Versailles and the exaggerated dining etiquette Louis XIV imposed there. She also conceived the pond's shape in the form of linden seed. (Linden trees are planted along the allées that stretch before the fountain.) The complex fabrication of the 5,800 pound spoon and 1,200 pound cherry was carried out at two shipbuilding yards in New England. The sculpture has become a beloved icon in the Garden, whether glaceed with snow in the Minnesota winters or gleaming in the warmer months, with water flowing over the surface of the cherry and a fine mist rising from its stem

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

The vine-covered arbor and flower garden, loving 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.

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The flower gardens are beautiful and wonderfully incorporated with the pieces of sculpture.

It's a great place to spend the afternoon and you'll find yourself amazed at this place of tranquility located in the heart of a major metropolis.

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This site was last updated 10/02/11