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Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, located at 1000 East Beltline N.E. in Grand Rapids, MI, opened to the public in April of 1995. One of the nationís most significant sculpture and botanic experiences, Meijer Gardens includes Michiganís largest tropical conservatory; three indoor theme gardens; outdoor gardens, nature trails and boardwalk; sculpture galleries and permanent sculpture collection; library; café; gift shop; classrooms; and meeting rooms. Both indoors and outdoors, the 132-acres are barrier free and handicap accessible. Since it opened, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has attracted more than seven million visitors.
The Tropical Conservatory is a five-story, 15,000 square-foot facility featuring rock landscapes, a waterfall and a variety of exotic plant selections. The conservatory houses tropical plants from around the world, including fig trees from India, exotic orchids from Central and South America, Asiatic bamboo and banana trees. Additional indoor gardens include the nationís most comprehensive carnivorous plant house, arid house featuring Saguaro cacti, Victorian conservatory and Seasonal Display Greenhouse.
The outdoor gardens feature four-season plantings that can be enjoyed throughout the year. To foster an educational awareness of the numerous ecosystems in West Michigan, the Wege Nature Trail winds through a forested section while the Frey Boardwalk introduces visitors to the natural wetlands. Featured on these walks are bird watching sites, a tadpole pond and beautiful vistas. From watching the snow fall to the leaves changing color, these areas are perfect for experiencing Michiganís changing landscapes.
The Gwen Frostic Woodland Shade Garden commemorates the artistic influence of this well-known naturalist artist and features woodland plants like ferns, hostas, bleeding hearts, rhododendrons, and azaleas. The English Perennial & Bulb Garden and the New American Garden are two additional outdoor features highlighting the organizationís continuing commitment to horticulture.
The sculpture program at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is composed of both a world-renowned permanent collection and dynamic exhibition programs. The permanent collection features more than 180 works including important examples ranging from Auguste Rodin and Edgar Degas, to Henry Moore and Alexander Calder to Mark di Suvero and Andy Goldsworthy. Works are sited in both interior settings such as the conservatories as well as featured outdoors across the gardens and grounds. The greatest concentration of work is featured in a 30-acre sculpture park, which plays host to both colossal and more traditional scale works sensitively sited in a natural environment. Of special interest is the colossal sculpture, The American Horse by Nina Akamu, as well as masterworks by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Alexander Liberman and Richard Hunt.
In addition, Meijer Gardens hosts three temporary exhibitions every year. A suite of indoor galleries offers approximately 4,000 square feet of display space. For example, major presentations of artists ranging from Magdalena Abakanowicz to George Segal, Dale Chihuly to Anthony Caro have captured widespread critical acclaim. Frequently, temporary exhibitions are complemented by outdoor installations in the lawns of the Balk Specialty Collection Garden or on the Keeler Sculpture Terrace.
The Lena Meijer Childrenís Garden is one of the most interactive childrenís gardens in the country. Here children can look through viewports to answer questions about sculpture, dig into the sand quarry to uncover information about fossils and build bridges over the Great Lakes water feature. They can explore tree houses, a log cabin, a butterfly labyrinth, a sense garden and a child-sized beaver lodge. Highlighting hundreds of plants as well as whimsical, child-oriented sculptures, it is perhaps the only childrenís garden in the United States with natural wetlands running right through the middle of it.
Michiganís Farm Garden is reminiscent of a 1930s family farm. This delightful setting includes an heirloom vegetable garden, an orchard, a barn, a sugar shack, a produce stand, a windmill and a ¾ scale replica of Lena (Rader) Meijerís childhood farmhouse. Sculptures of farm animals complete the picture.
The Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater is a distinguished venue for musical events and a summer concert series every year. The outdoor amphitheater boasts brilliant acoustics and tiered lawn seating for 1,900 people. Past musicians featured on the Meijer Gardens stage include Art Garfunkel, B.B. King, Lyle Lovett and Willie Nelson.
Butterflies are Blooming is an annual exhibition that takes place every March and April, featuring more than 6,000 tropical butterflies from more than 50 species of South American, Central American and Asian origin that fly free in the five-story, 15,000 square foot tropical conservatory. This is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibit in the nation and attracts more than 150,000 visitors during the months of March and April.
Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World is a celebration that takes place every November and December Ė featuring more than 40 different cultures and customs from around the world, trees and displays both indoors and out, more than 300,000 Christmas lights, horse-drawn carriage rides, visits from Santa and educational activities to coincide with the exhibition. The Railway Garden, expands through three lush indoor gardens with a model train traveling past glittering lights and over high trestles. Within the garden are buildings modeled after Grand Rapids landmarks, all handmade of natural materials by railway garden designer Paul Busse.