About

About

Bringing joy to the lives of over 600,000 guests annually.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a charitable 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation with a Board of Directors overseeing the successful operation of the organization.

History

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park opened in April 1995 after 13 years of planning and fundraising by the West Michigan Horticultural Society. In 1990, Fred and Lena Meijer were asked for their support, and they embraced the concept of a major cultural attraction centering around horticulture and sculpture. The original vision has turned into a top cultural destination in the Midwest region, known internationally for the quality of the art and gardens.

Meijer Gardens' dream and commitment is to create a legacy of lifelong learning, enjoyment and a rich cultural experience for generations to come. It is a non-profit organization, privately funded by grants, foundations and individual and corporate gifts. The organization is operated by almost 200 full and part-time staff, more than 800 volunteers and supported by gifts from more than 23,000 member households and many donors. 

Meijer Gardens promotes the enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of gardens, sculpture, the natural environment and the arts. 

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 nation’s most significant sculpture and botanic experiences, Meijer Gardens includes Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory; five indoor theme gardens; outdoor gardens, nature trails and boardwalk; One of the nation’s most significant sculpture and botanic experiencessculpture galleries and permanent sculpture collection; library; café; gift shop; classrooms; and meeting rooms. Both indoors and outdoors, the 158-acre main campus is barrier free and handicap accessible. Our 2009 building upgrade was awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver status by the USGBC (U.S Green Building Council). Since it opened, Meijer Gardens has attracted more than eight million visitors.

Fact Sheet

The Lena Meijer 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 Kenneth E. Nelson Carnivorous Plant House, Earl and Donnalee Holton Arid Garden (featuring Saguaro cacti), the Earl and Donnalee Holton Victorian Garden, and the Grace Jarecki 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 vistas. From watching the snow fall to the leaves changing color, these areas are perfect for experiencing Michigan’s 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 Leslie E. Tassell English Perennial & Bulb Garden and the New American Garden are two additional outdoor features highlighting the organization’s 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 works 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 hosts 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. Learn more about the Sculpture Park »

In addition, Meijer Gardens hosts three temporary sculpture 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. Many temporary exhibitions are include outdoor installations on the lawns of the Balk Specialty Collection Garden or on the Keeler Sculpture Terrace.

The Lena Meijer Children’s Garden is one of the most interactive children’s gardens in the country. Here children can look through viewing ports 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 children’s garden in the United States with natural wetlands running right through the middle of it.

Michigan’s 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) Meijer’s childhood farmhouse. Sculptures of farm animals complete the picture.

The Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater is a distinguished venue for the Fifth-Third Bank Outdoor Summer Concert Series and other musical events each year. The outdoor amphitheater boasts brilliant acoustics and tiered lawn seating for 1,900 people. Artists who have been featured on the Meijer Gardens stage include Bonnie Raitt, Steve Miller Band, 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, African 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.

Chrysanthemums and More! is the largest of its kind in Michigan, featuring expansive chrysanthemum displays, fall foliage and family-friendly activities. Indoors, the Seasonal Display Greenhouse features a cascading chrysanthemum-covered wall as the main focal point. Presentations of chrysanthemum spheres, large disbuds and beds of colorful planting complement this display in the nearby Victorian Greenhouse. Outdoors, expansive beds of lush chrysanthemums are arranged in large sweeps of scarlet, purple, orange and gold. Mum Day, Giant Pumpkins and Hallowee-Ones and other fall-themed activities full of family fun are available during this exhibition.

Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World is a celebration that takes place every November and December – 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 Applied Imagination.

20th Anniversary

On April 20, 2015, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park will observe its 20th anniversary. The past 20 years have produced innumerable, remarkable moments. Here, we share but 20 of the most memorable moments in our 20-year history.

1993: A Vision Takes Shape

1993: A Vision Takes Shape

Fred Meijer and Peter Wege at the site that would become Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

1994: Topping Off Ceremony

1994: Topping Off Ceremony

Fred & Lena Meijer, along with staff and volunteers, signed the top of the last beam before it was put into place.

April 20, 1995: Grand Opening

April 20, 1995: Grand Opening

A ribbon cutting ceremony with Fred & Lena, President & Mrs. Ford, and Governor Engler, opened Phase I construction.

1996: Debut of

1996: Debut of "Butterflies Are Blooming"

The first "Butterflies Are Blooming" exhibition was held March 16-31, 1996, with more than 50,000 guests attending.

July 14, 1999: Installation of _Aria_

July 14, 1999: Installation of Aria

This monumental work by Alexander Lieberman was dedicated at its new location along a newly developed, half-mile sculpture trail.

October 7, 1999: _The American Horse_ by Nina Akamu

October 7, 1999: The American Horse by Nina Akamu

The dedication of The American Horse was witnessed by 4,800 guests and drove visitation up fivefold in October and fourfold in November of that year.

September 17, 2000: Sculpture Galleries Open

September 17, 2000: Sculpture Galleries Open

The addition of indoor galleries provided opportunity for changing exhibitions and enhanced the collections program. Richard Hunt was the artist featured in the sculpture exhibition.

January 10, 2001: Acquisition of _Eve_

January 10, 2001: Acquisition of Eve

Eve, by Auguste Rodin, was unveiled as the cornerstone of the permanent collection. She was displayed indoors and then unveiled again the following May in her permanent home in the Sculpture Park.

October 27, 2001: Carnivorous Plant House

October 27, 2001: Carnivorous Plant House

The Kenneth E. Nelson Carnivorous Plant House opened with one of the largest carnivorous plant collections in the nation.

May 16, 2002: Sculpture Park Dedication

May 16, 2002: Sculpture Park Dedication

The Sculpture Park opened to the public, with six of the international artists represented in our permanent collection present for the dedication.

September 11, 2002: Jimmy Carter Visits

September 11, 2002: Jimmy Carter Visits

President Jimmy Carter toured the grounds with Fred Meijer and called Meijer Gardens a "national treasure."

May 17, 2003: Michigan's Farm Garden Opens

May 17, 2003: Michigan's Farm Garden Opens

It includes a scale replica of Lena Meijer's childhood home and a 100-year-old barn, and roses from Lena's garden. Fred & Lena led the procession on a borrowed, vintage tractor.

June 6, 2003: Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater

June 6, 2003: Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater

The Amphitheater Garden opened with a performance by Big Bad Voo Doo Daddy and the concert series began on June 15 with Art Garfunkel. It has grown to become the most anticipated summer concert series in West Michigan.

June 20, 2004: Lena Meijer Children's Garden

June 20, 2004: Lena Meijer Children's Garden

It becomes one of the most interactive children's gardens in the nation; attendance increased more than 65%, June through September, compared to 2003.

Various Years: Presidential and First Lady Visits

Various Years: Presidential and First Lady Visits

Several have visited, notably President and Mrs. Ford, President and Mrs. Carter, and Lady Bird Johnson, shown with Fred & Lena.

2003 & 2010: Chihuly Exhibitions

2003 & 2010: Chihuly Exhibitions

In 2003 we hosted an indoor exhibition by Dale Chihuly and his spectacular glass sculptures and in 2010 we hosted a monumental outdoor exhibition that drove attendance to over 680,000 visitors.

August 7, 2010: 15th Anniversary Concert

August 7, 2010: 15th Anniversary Concert

To celebrate our 15th year, Lyle Lovett played a sold out show and the evening concluded with fireworks. Proceeds supported the Meijer Gardens Annual Fund.

November 2011: Fred Meijer's Memorial Service

November 2011: Fred Meijer's Memorial Service

On November 25, 2011, our dear friend Fred Meijer passed away. Thousands came to pay their respects at a memorial service at Meijer Gardens.

2011-2015: The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden

2011-2015: The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden

As the three-year construction process comes to a close, we anticipate with great excitement opening this beautiful garden to the public on June 13, 2015.

2015 and Beyond: Building for the Future

2015 and Beyond: Building for the Future

Recently, we acquired several adjacent properties that will allow for expansion and growth in the long term, ensuring Meijer Gardens will be always new for generations to come.

America's Garden of Art Book

America’s Garden of Art is a pictorial essay of Meijer Gardens’ exhibitions, features and art. More than 220 color images display Meijer Gardens in every season, complete with essays by Chief Curator Joseph Becherer, CEO and President David Hooker and historical timeline by Larry ten Harmsel.

This book can be purchased in the Meijer Gardens Gift Shop.