In the first of our ‘World Travel Blogger’ series of articles, American Dr Jessie Voigts, of Wandering Educators, shares her love of travel and art with a look at a very unusual family attraction in the USA.
Looking for a quirky outdoor adventure among art? If you’re anywhere near Michigan, take a day to visit the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. It’s a world-class institution, one of the nation’s most significant sculpture and botanic experiences. Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park was called one of the world’s 30 ‘Must-See Museums’ by Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.
Meijer Gardens contains the largest tropical conservatory in Michigan; one of the U.S.’s biggest children’s gardens; arid and Victorian gardens featuring bronze sculptures by Degas and Rodin; a house of carnivorous plants; and an outdoor amphitheater. The internationally acclaimed Sculpture Park includes a permanent collection with works by Rodin, Oldenburg, Moore, Bourgeois, and Plensa. Indoor galleries host changing sculpture exhibitions with recent exhibitions by Picasso, Degas, Butterfield, di Suvero, and Calder. You can attend outdoor concerts, and classes in a variety of subjects.
But what does that mean for a visit? Come along and see!
When you first enter, you’ll see gorgeous flooring – an art installation that includes bronze fossils of all types. Take a look to the right at the enormous Chihuly chandelier by the cafe. Stop in at the special exhibits, or peek into the classrooms and take a class! Keep on going to the arid gardens for a bit of warmth in the winter. During the late winter months, in the hot and humid conservatory, you can see the Butterflies in Bloom exhibit – it’s the perfect breath of spring!
Once outside, you have many paths to follow, all strewn with extraordinary sculptures. Straight ahead is the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden, in which you can enter through a tiny, child-sized door, or through a regular gate for those of us past the age of 5. You can splash in the pools shaped like the Great Lakes, use all five of your senses, explore with dragons, foxes, and spiders, play in the story telling garden, enter a beaver lodge or a rock quarry, play in a treehouse or a log cabin, and meander through a labyrinth.
This leads to the Michigan Farm Garden, which is based on a 1930s farm, and has a century-old barn, gardens, an 1880’s farmhouse, sugar shack, and bronze animals to show visitors how a farm might look, back in the day. The vegetable gardens are planted with heirloom seeds. There are other walks (including one in the wetlands, so watch for wildlife), but my favorite is the main sculpture walk. It’s paved (as is the entire walkway through all the areas, easy for handicap access), and leads through meadows, marshes, hills, a waterfall, lakes, and grasslands to show you sculptures from artists around the world.
This is the joy of Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park – you never know what’s around the bend! For more information visit the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
Jessie Voigts has a PhD in International Education, and is the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world. She founded the Family Travel Bloggers Association and the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. She’s published two books about travel and intercultural learning, with more on the way.