About 75 years ago, the area that was to become the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden housed the Kenwood Armory and its formal flower beds. The building was torn down in 1933, but the elaborate Armory Gardens were deeded to the Minneapolis Park Board and maintained until a freeway dissected the grounds and part of the property became an athletics field.
In the 1980s, the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board commissioned architect Edward Larrabee Barnes to design a new urban public park, featuring sculpture from the Walker’s collection and new site-specific works, including the monumental and now iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden opened in 1988—25 years ago this summer.
To celebrate the anniversary of this beloved Twin Cities landmark, the Walker presents Walker on the Green: Artist-Designed Mini Golf, sponsored by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Garden gnomes masquerading as foosball strikers, a scale model of a French chateau, mazes, gopher holes, and contours mapped from the course at the legendary Augusta National Golf Club are just a few ingredients in the 2013 edition of this popular game.
Two adjacent courses share an eighth hole, making for 15 uniquely designed opportunities to try your skill at this quintessentially summer pastime. Architects, artists, engineers, machinists, mini-golf aficionados, and students from a public sculpture class at the University of Minnesota led by artist Chris Larson contributed to Walker on the Green.
“The Walker is very excited to partner with Thrivent Financial around this summer-long program that will attract thousands of visitors from the community at large and bring many of the more than 80,000 local Thrivent members to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden,” says Walker executive director Olga Viso. “We are very lucky to have such a wonderful urban sculpture park in our community, and to have such generous and supportive partners help us bring it to life for our visitors.”
Thrivent is an active supporter of the Twin Cities community, has been a long-standing and generous supporter of the Walker’s annual fund, and was also the lead sponsor of the 20th-anniversary celebration of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the Walker’s popular Free First Saturday program. “We are delighted to continue our partnership with the Walker and celebrate our local artists,” says Stacy Hanley, director of community relations for Thrivent. “Walker on the Green promises to be a fun-filled, hands-on way for our community to enjoy art from a unique perspective.”