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Places to Visit in Grand Rapids, MI

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

In Grand Rapids Township, Michigan, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a 158-acre (64 ha) botanical garden, art museum, and outdoor sculpture park. Meijer Gardens, which opened in 1995, soon established itself as a significant cultural destination in the Midwest, focusing on both horticulture and sculpture. Between 2015 and 2017, it received 750,000 people yearly, making it a popular cultural destination in Michigan.  It also welcomed almost 13 million people in its first 25 years of existence. Meijer Gardens has continued to add to its permanent collection of sculptures by prominent personalities in Modern and Contemporary art, as well as expanding its interior and outdoor garden structures. In 2018, Artsy named the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park one of the “Eleven World’s Greatest Sculpture Parks.”  Meijer, Inc. donated 70.7 acres (28.6 ha) of property in Grand Rapids Township, Michigan, for the new public garden in January 1991. Earl Holton led a $13 million capital campaign to turn the land into a public park, with additional funding from Meijer Corporation vendors. The Meijer Corporation’s Frederik and Lena Meijer were crucial in the project’s construction by donating land, providing funding, and donating their sculpture collection to the park. The museum is currently known as Meijer Gardens after being renamed the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in their honor. Meijer Gardens originally opened to the public on April 20, 1995, and served as a home for Fred Meijer’s increasing collection of large-scale sculptures by Marshall Fredericks, as well as Lena Meijer’s love of flora and flowers. In respect of Frederik Meijer’s goal of integrating high art with the aesthetic beauty of nature, the Gardens’ purpose is to stress sculpture and horticulture equally. The Lena Meijer Conservatory, a five-story, 15,000-square-foot (1,400-square-meter) structure that supports tropical plants from throughout the world, is a significant feature of Gardens. The 8-acre Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden, which opened on June 10, 2015, contributes to the organization’s dual goal of horticulture and sculpture. The Japanese Garden, in the northeast corner of the 132-acre property, is one of the most recognized horticultural styles in the world, demonstrating the essence of the Japanese heritage of peace, simplicity, and beauty. The Wege Nature Trail, a paved path that winds through the property’s forested section, aims to raise awareness of West Michigan’s various native ecosystems. The Frey Boardwalk, which leads to the natural wetlands, is connected to it. The walk includes bird-watching spots, natural grassland habitats, and wetlands with a tadpole pond. Gwen Frostic, a lifelong Michigan citizen, artist, novelist, and businessman noted for her realistic block prints of local flora and animals, was honored with the Gwen Frostic Woodland Shade Garden, which was dedicated in June 1998. The Lena Meijer Children’s Garden, which was inaugurated in June 2004, is one of the country’s largest children’s gardens. The 30-acre (12 hectares) outdoor sculpture park at Meijer Gardens debuted on May 16, 2002. 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, have all had works displayed at the museum.

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