Thursday, February 18, 2010

Art Blooms in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids, Michigan is a city built on philanthropy, and nowhere is it more evident than at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.  Opened in 1995, the botanical and artistic complex encompasses 125 acres of natural wetlands, woodlands, meadows, and gardens designed by world-renown landscape artists.  Supported by Frederik and Lena Meijer, it's also home for many sculptures from their own collection as well as commissioned pieces created for display in this natural setting.

The Lena Meijer Children's Garden makes this a mecca for children, too.  Designed as a fun and imaginative experience for children of all ages--including grown-ups, it's a place where families may come for a few hours or stay all day.  Preschoolers to parents enjoy a multitude of interactive activities.

The Kid-Sense Garden allows children to explore plants through all five senses: stroke a lamb's ear, pinch a mint, or rattle a gourd.  For all kinds of water plan, three-dimensional geographic replicas are featured in the Great Lakes Garden.  There's a Story-Telling Garden introduced by a touching sculpture of Grandparent and child, and children may search for fossils in the quarry.

The Treehouse Village consists of five tree houses linked by boardwalks, each allowing exploration of different botanical and woodland happenings.  Children scurry through the 50-foot wide hedge boundaries of the Butterfly Maze while parents keep a watchful eye and snap photos from one of several overlooks.  Sculptures here are whimsical and often use found items like golf balls and buckets for creative inspiration.

Take a peaceful stroll along maincured paths where more than 100 bronze and steel sculptures bloom among trees, waterfalls, and prairies.  Artists like Rodin, Maillol, Lipchitz, Nevelson, and Henry Moore inspire emotions of awe, laughter, or memory with their work.  The world's largest equine sculpture, The American Horse, provides a great photo opportunity.  Completed on 19999 from drawings by Leonardo de Vinci, Nina Akamu's imposing sculpture stands 24 feet high.

Walk through the indoor tropical rain forest, jush with greenery, pink orchids, and soothing waterfall.  Breathe gentle floral scents from the delicate Victorian garden, admire rugged desert cacti, and marvel at the display of spooky carnivorous plants.  Nature trails, bridges, and walkways invite everyone, even those not connoisseurs of art or botany, to love and relish this place.

Photos by Larry Burmeier

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