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World-Renowned Sculptors Unite to Honor Major Philanthropists
The exhibition features works by 26 of the most important artists working today.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI.- In just 15 years, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has established a permanent sculpture collection of international acclaim built by two philanthropists who collected solely for public enrichment and enjoyment. The world’s most renowned sculptors working today have united to present an exclusive group exhibition honoring the organization’s namesakes. “Sculptors Celebrate the Legacy of Fred and Lena Meijer” will be on display June 4 – January 2, 2011.

The exhibition features works by 26 of the most important artists working today including iconic masters Magdalena Abakanowicz , Louise Bourgeois, Mark di Suvero and Claes Oldenburg; internationally heralded sculptors Jonathan Borofsky, Deborah Butterfield, Antony Gormley, David Nash and Jaume Plensa; as well as emerging talents like Laura Ford and Sophie Ryder.

All artists represented in the gallery exhibition have works permanently displayed in the 30-acre Sculpture Park, set amidst woodlands, waterfalls and wildflowers, The exhibition links the artists’ loaned works with their respective pieces in the permanent collection, offering further appreciation and understanding of the significance of the Meijer’s legacy.

Plans for Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park were initially laid in the 1980s, with a strong emphasis on horticulture. As the Meijers became involved, Lena’s love of flowers and gardens, infused with Fred’s growing interest in sculpture, helped create a truly unique institution.

“Through the Meijers’ generosity, a collection of international stature has developed while creating an organization whose very character advances well beyond either a horticultural or arts organization,” said Joseph Becherer, Vice President and Chief Curator. “In fifteen short years, we have become a respected cultural organization that welcomes and informs a vast and diverse audience.”

Since the organization’s opening on April 20, 1995, the collection grew rapidly. Fred Meijer had a growing desire to build a ‘world-class sculpture collection.’ Within five years, critically acclaimed works such as Alexander Liberman’s “Aria” and Deborah Butterfield’s “Cabin Creek” were acquired and installed. In May of 2002, the 30-acre Sculpture Park opened with more than 24 masterworks by renowned artists including Auguste Rodin, Jacques Lipchitz, Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Antony Gormley. Today more than 50 works are displayed in the open-air Sculpture Park with more than 200 in the permanent collection, displayed both indoors and outdoors across the 132-acre campus.

“The opening of the Sculpture Park is arguably the watershed moment for the organization,” said Becherer. “The collection grew beyond the dimensions that anyone would have imagined in just a few short years – all through the generosity and acceptance of Fred and Lena Meijer.”

“Everyone needs beautiful art in beautiful green spaces,” said Fred and Lena Meijer. “We would like to feel that people who come here feel something special, something that truly enhances their lives. That somehow their senses are alive and their passion for art grows with every visit. And that they would have moments of joy.”

Many sculptors have developed a special affinity for the Meijers, marveling Fred and Lena’s openness to collect and their profound and selfless desire to give and share.

It’s been great working with Fred and Lena Meijer,” said American sculptor Jonathan Borofsky. “They have created one of the most unique atmospheres in the world in which everyone can experience art and where art and nature can intersect and become one. “

Meijer Gardens celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. A large-scale indoor and outdoor glass exhibition by Dale Chihuly titled “A New Eden” blends the horticulture and art missions of the institution. Across the 132-acre grounds, 15 monumental installations feature thousands of pieces of blown glass. This is Chihuly’s largest and most comprehensive exhibition to date.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park was recently ranked one of the 100 most-visited art museums across the globe by “Art Newspaper.” In 2009, the organization was named one of the top 30 “Must-See Museums” in the world by Patricia Shultz, author of “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.”

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park | Joseph Becherer | Magdalena Abakanowicz | Louise Bourgeois |

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