5 Things About the New and Improved Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

This month, the beloved art park reopens after major renovations. Along with installing 18 new sculptures, here’s what went down

A portrait of the Spoonbridge and Cherry at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
Spoonbridge and Cherry

photo courtesy of meet minneapolis

Exhuming time capsules
New sculpture footings go 10–15 feet into the earth, so construction turned up a lot of soil. Poking from the dirt: bits of teacups and stained glass—remnants of earlier eras compacted over time. Small bottles surfaced from a chemist shop operated between the late 1800s and early 1920s. Two bottles still contained substances: one ammonia, the other an unknown solution.

Going green
Last year, the garden demolished granite stairs at the Walker Art Center front entrance to open up green space. The garden recycled that granite into new plazas and bases for sculptures. The garden also installed an Olympic pool–size cistern under “Spoonbridge and Cherry” to collect rainwater for more energy-efficient irrigation.

Consulting the artists
The garden contacted artists of the 1988 installations to apprise them of shifting contexts. Kinji Akagawa saw his wood-and-rock bench moved up to a perch overlooking Minneapolis. Claes Oldenburg, half the duo behind “Spoonbridge,” saw the pond beneath the iconic sculpture restored to its shape before erosion: that of a linden seed, echoing the linden trees lining the garden.

Sharing sculptures
Some sculptures moved a few feet. Others moved across the city. Frank Gehry’s giant glass fish—formerly in the garden conservatory, which is now an outdoor pavilion—sits in the Weisman Art Museum on long-term loan. Mark di Suvero’s red tangle of I-beams occupies Gold Medal Park. Jacques Lipchitz’s bronze nightmare “Prometheus Strangling the Vulture II” will call the Mia home for the foreseeable future.

Still—don’t get snap happy
Formal photography—for a wedding or commercial purposes—will still cost $50 for a one-hour permit (lighting equipment prohibited) so capturing the new sights will take some bureaucracy.