Celebrating 25 Years: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

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In 2020, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park—one of the world's most significant sculpture and botanic experiences—is celebrating 25 years of being open to the public.

Meijer Gardens continues to incorporate its core mission of exploring the duality of art and nature in the upcoming year's celebratory events, ranging from internationally acclaimed sculpture exhibitions and exciting horticulture shows to seasonal indoor and outdoor displays, concerts, and educational programming. Each year, 670,000 visitors make their way to Meijer Gardens to create unforgettable memories.

"This lineup of events is particularly exciting during our 25th anniversary year because we're continuing our mission of promoting the enjoyment, understanding, and appreciation of gardens, sculpture, the natural environment, and the arts by offering a calendar packed with unique events for lovers of art, horticulture, live music, and more," said John VanderHaagen, Director of Communications. "It's such a joy to see what began as the seed of an idea nearly three decades ago between the West Michigan Horticultural Society and Fred and Lena Meijer grow to a world-class institution today."

With a new decade also comes new enhancements to the gardens and park.

"The visitor experience at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is being enhanced by all of the major expansion projects that have occurred over the past two years and will continue to improve with the addition of our new Welcome Center, opening to the public in 2021," said VanderHaagen, who noted that once complete, the Gardens will have additional accessible parking spaces and will have increased the number of parking spots located within a two-minute walk of the main entrance. "The Welcome Center will provide a larger space to gather as groups and individuals enter and a better way of managing crowds at our ticketing desk and main entry area."

Among areas that are part of the ongoing expansion project and have already opened to the public are a new Peter C. & Emajean Cook Transportation Center for their tram service; a new Covenant Learning Center, which serves as a beautiful space for the Gardens' educational programming; and enhancements and upgrades to the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater.

"We're excited to officially open the new Meijer-Shedleski Picnic Pavilion in the spring, offering a place for groups and individuals to eat a picnic meal before or after a visit to the Gardens & Sculpture Park," added VanderHaagen.

Here is a summarized list of the 2020 events:


Rebecca Louise Law: The Womb | Through March 1, 2020
British installation artist Rebecca Louise Law uses dried and fresh plant material to create site-specific installations that dazzle the senses.

Animal Adventures: Surviving in the Wild | Saturdays, February 1 or February 15, 2020, 10 – 11:30 a.m.
Enjoy watching live animal presentations, listening to animal stories, completing art projects, playing animal-themed games, and trying your luck at animal challenges. Perfect for ages 3 to 6, but all ages are welcome.

Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming | March 1—April 30, 2020
A guest favorite, the Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition features butterflies from around the world flying freely in the five-story Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. Exhibition activities include Who Am I? A Butterfly Ballet, taking place Saturday, February 29, at 10 a.m. and 12:30 pm, and Sunday, March 1, at 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

George Segal: Body Language | April 3—August 16, 2020
This exhibition will focus on George Segal's remarkable versatility in representing body language across different media, including not only his trademark plaster sculptures but also various print techniques. This will be the first Segal exhibition at Meijer Gardens since 2004 and the first time a large number of prints, gifted to Meijer Gardens by the Segal Foundation, are on display. Exhibition activities include lectures Body Imagery in Contemporary Art and Exploring Process, Printmaking.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 25th Anniversary Celebration | Sunday, April 19 – Tuesday, April 21
Relive some of the highlights of the past 25 years through photos and displays around the Gardens & Sculpture Park. The first 500 visitors on Monday, April 20, will receive a special gift. Guests will have the opportunity to sign granite panels that are part of the ongoing Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love expansion project.

Master Lecture Series: Secchia Garden Lecture – Karen Chapman | Tuesday, April 21, 7 p.m.
Fueled by her work in one of the Pacific Northwest's leading nurseries, Karen Chapman will demonstrate how to design a garden framework of foliage, then layer in flowers, berries and other intriguing natural elements to create artistic vignettes. Through striking photographs and illustrations, she'll share how to apply this trademark technique in containers and gardens of all shapes and sizes.

Great Gardens Party | Wednesday, May 6, 6 p.m.
Meijer Gardens' signature spring fundraiser features cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, a sit-down dinner, live and silent auctions, a raffle, and much more. Horticulture experts will be on hand to answer any questions about caring for plants. All proceeds support Meijer Gardens' mission of promoting the enjoyment, understanding, and appreciation of gardens, sculpture, the natural environment, and the arts.

Fifth Third Bank Summer Concerts at Meijer Gardens | June – September
The Fifth Third Bank Summer Concerts at Meijer Gardens concert series brings the finest national and international musicians to West Michigan, thrilling music lovers across all genres and all generations. The full lineup will be announced in April.

Tuesday Evening Music Club | Tuesdays in July and August
July and August welcome the Tuesday Evening Music Club, a series featuring the region's finest performers, to the stage at the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the entire facility in addition to the concerts. Bring a picnic, dance and enjoy the beautiful summer weather.

Like New: Art in the Age of Recycling and Beyond | September 11, 2020 – January 3, 2021 | ArtPrize: September 16 – October 4
The artists included in this exhibition present new approaches to sculptural repurposing in a world where changing technologies, economic scarcity and environmental pollution are some of the global challenges of the 21st century.

Chrysanthemums & More! Exhibition | September 18 – November 1
This annual celebration of the autumn season features an extensive chrysanthemum display with hundreds of flowering plants in both interior and exterior areas. Tram rides and seasonal children's activities are available.

The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden 5th Anniversary Celebration | Tuesday, September 22
Celebrate the first five years of The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden with docent-led tours, hands-on demonstrations and more. The day concludes with a unique water lantern launch and ceremony at dusk.

The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden 5th Anniversary Celebration Lecture: Leslie Buck – My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto | Tuesday, September 22, 6 p.m.
Discover the plants, people and creatures in the gardens that many people consider living art as author Leslie Buck highlights experiences from her memoir, Cutting Back, which will be available for purchase and signing after the lecture.

Holiday Gift Show | Saturday, November 7
Find the perfect gift for everyone on your list at the Meijer Gardens Holiday Gift Show. We'll even treat you to free gift-wrapping! Members receive a 10% discount on their purchases.

Metro Health Christmas & Holiday Traditions Exhibition | November 24 – January 3, 2021
Experience the most magical time of year as Meijer Gardens transforms into a world of winter magic with the glow of nearly 400,000 lights, 46 captivating international trees and displays, strolling carolers, Santa visits, and more surprises than can fit under the tree.

Christmas Cabaret | Wednesday, December 2, 6 pm
This annual fundraising gala is an opportunity to ring in the holiday season. Guests will enjoy the Metro Health Christmas & Holiday Traditions exhibition during cocktail hour and will then be treated to a delicious plated dinner while enjoying holiday entertainment.

Serious gardeners and plant lovers of all kinds should also check out the various Plant Show Series events throughout 2020.

All exhibition dates and titles are subject to change. Learn more at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for West Michigan Woman.

Photo courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

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