On our way to Canada for the weekend we stopped in Grand Rapids to visit the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, specifically to see the Chihuly exhibit that is running through October 31, 2010. There are 15 spots throughout the gardens and park that have Chihuly works placed in them, many of them integrating into nature. My favorite spot was the Groves and Hekman Pond where they have a spiky blue and white glass ball on a spike, multiple glass balls floating in the pond and a fishing boat filled with 137 individual pieces of blown glass.
In addition to the temporary exhibition of Chihuly works, there are permanent sculptures from more than 30 artists including Auguste Rodin, Alexander Calder and Joan Miro
Admission is $12 for adults which is a little steep in the current economic climate but even on a Thursday there were quite a few visitors.
For some photos of the Chihuly exhibit and a few more sculpture photos, see the travelogues
One of the main tourist attractions in Grand Rapids. Although the idea of visiting a gardens might not appeal to some... I think the sculpture park is what makes this stand out from other "gardens". Although I'm not really an artistic person, I loved viewing the various sculptures around the park.
The highlight of course is "Leonardo Da Vinci's Horse"... a gigantic horse sculpture which you need to see for yourself!
The sculpture park does involve a little bit of walking, however there was also a tram that drove around so that if you weren't into all the walking, you could leisurely ride and view the various sculptures.
Along with that of course is the actual gardens which contains some pretty interesting things to see.
I would imagine this would be a wonderful place to visit on a snowy winter day in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is an inviting room full of lovely blooms and foliage. I love the way the table and chairs are tucked under the large plants.
The outdoor acreage also includes this natural wildlife habitat. Meijer Gardens is in the process of reestablishing the environment for indiginous wildlife. This can be viewed from a boardwalk that meanders nicely through large growths of trees and woods.
At the front of the entrance there is a sculpture of a full size bear. The garden is five acres and one of the largest gardens for children in the nation. It is open year round and is totally wheelchair accessible.
The garden focuses on gardennig, wildlife and nature found in the Great Lakes area.
There are ten themed areas; including a log cabin, a story-telling area, a Rock Quarry containing living fossils and more.
This farm had two gardens, each enclosed in a wire fence. They had small examples of all the things that will grow in a Michigan garden.
When I was a young person on our farm in Michigan we really didn't have a garden.
My mother had to work at a hospital to support the dairyfarm operation and subsidize our day to day living.
TheMeijer gardens were near the backdoor of the farmhouse for easy access to the kitchen.
This is quite similar to the inside of the barn we had on our farm in Michigan. It is a little smaller, perhaps to match the 3/4 scale of the farmhouse. On the side beams many farm implements and tools are displayed.
I can't really remember my father doing this but it seems a natural place to store tools.
Most barns in Michigan have a double wide opening at the top floor and they are open to the bottom part on the opposite side for the cows to come in and out for milking.
I grew up on a dairy farm in Michigan and it was so much fun to go in this barn and reminisce about the fun I had as a kid, especially during the summers. We had all kinds of places to play in the barn. When it was full of hay upstairs we would climb over huge stacks of baled hay.
I took a picture of the inside of the barn and it turned out quite well.
There are sculptures of animals around the barn in their respective places on a farm.
This is definitely the # 1 sculpture to see in the gardens. It is 24 feet high. You can get some perspective if you look down by the left front foot of the horse where my husband is standing. Quite a magnificent sight!
This horse was sculptured from Leonardo DaVinci's sketch.
You have to visit the botanical garden and sculpture park if you're in Grand Rapids. It's a great place to spend a day. Start inside and explore the indoor gardens and the 5-story tropical conservatory. Then go outside and wonder the trails of the park. There are lots of sculptures that are planted all over the park and amongst the plants. There is also a boardwalk that follows along the shore of a pond which is teeming with wildlife - from ducks to storks to beavers. The sculpture park is actually the largest collection of outdoor sculptures in the Midwest.
The centerpiece of the collection, though, is a 24 foot sculpture of a horse, originally designed by Leonardo da Vinci and finally sculpted and cast in bronze in the U.S. in 1998. It is truly an awe-inspiring sight, you have to see it to fully appreciate it. Two horses of same size were cast - one went to Milan, Italy; the other to Grand Rapids.
Once you are done with the outside of the park and return to the main building, don't forget to visit the modern art and sculpture galleries inside before you go. Lots of interesting art there.
I have more photos from the gardens in a travelogue on my Grand Rapids page, so don't forget to check them out!
Don't miss the Frederick Meijer Gardens.
It has one of the only two giant bronze statues of Michelangelo's Horse in the world. The other is in Italy. The arboretum is beautiful, as are the trails around the grounds, with many sculptures throughout.
This indoor area reminded us of the rainforest at Balboa Park in San Diego.
There are many specie of plants to ponder over and there is a lovely display of orchids.
There is a lovely display of orchids in the Tropical Conservatory. I've added a few more photos just to display them they are so beautiful.