An Outside Museum, You Say?

Tony Cragg’s “Bent of Mind” greets the visitor at the entrance.

It’s a museum. It’s a garden. It’s both. And it’s awesome.

It’s the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

… in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

If you’ve been to “normal” museums, you’ve seen sculptures mostly inside the museums. You know—Dégas, Michelangelo, Rodin, Warhol, etc. However, part of the Rodin Museum in Paris is outside, and be assured, some of the sculptures at this park are inside, too!

When you first arrive, you might find that the Frederik Meijer outdoor sculpture park is best viewed from the docent-led tram ride. (We were glad we did.) You’ll learn about how Frederik Meijer (billionaire chairman of the Meijer hypermarket chain) donated a large portion of the land for the park, and you’ll hear about the sculptures and artists. You can then visit any area that particularly interests you and explore the inner beauty of each of the glorious sections at your leisure.

Is it really that good?

Well, this park was voted “Best Sculpture Park in the United States by readers of USA Today in 2023 & 2024.” I’d put it in a bucket list category.

One of the highlights is the 24-foot-tall “The American Horse” statue—there are only two in the world.

The American Horse

A monument to creativity, The American Horse was created by famed animalier or animal sculptor Nina Akamu. The work is inspired in part by a work created by Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci for the Duke of Milan in the late 15th century. Fred Meijer championed the project in the late 1990s, resulting in two casts of the 24-foot monument: one for Meijer Gardens and one for the city of Milan, Italy. In addition to inspiration from Leonardo, Akamu was inspired by the history of equine imagery and the study of horses. Source: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s Website.

Nina Akamu’s “The American Horse”

I took the photo on the left in 2024. The next one gives you an idea of the relative size. That was me “holding up” its front foot in 2017. It was big then, and it’s big now!

“The American Horse” and Me

The place is huge. It’s 158 acres, which doesn’t sound that big until you realize an American football field is about 1.32 acres, so the park’s area is about 120 football fields.

Massive and Small Sculptures in Exquisite Gardens

The gardens elevated the artwork, and vice versa. It was clear the groundskeepers had lots of help! These critters must surely sneak out at night to weed, clean, and clip. 






This guy was supposed to oversee their work, but he’s definitely taking a break.

Sean Henry’s “Lying Man”

I’d love to tell you all the facts and figures about this wonderful, do-not-miss-it Midwest visiting destination, but I think you’ll find a lot more (evergreen) information on the website. 

Here’s why. As I try to write about the coolness of this unique spot, I find I’ve missed the fact that there are many gardens within the garden. The Children’s Garden invites young people to play, learn, and explore. The relatively new (2015) Japanese Garden takes tranquility, simplicity, and beauty to an exquisite height. You can check out all the gardens here. 

In all, there are five indoor theme gardens, outdoor gardens, nature trails, and a boardwalk; sculpture galleries; and a permanent sculpture collection. The website is temptingly lovely. But there’s nothing like visiting in person. It’s definitely a United States of America bucket list item worthy of Going on An Adventure.

If You Go

If you go, you might try to hit it before a famous midwest winter storm chases the sculptures inside. 🙂

Click HERE for ticket information.









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