Walker Art Center

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Press Releases Walker Art Center Announces Long-Range Campus Planning Project with Upgrades to its Original Building, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, and Completion of Four-Acre Green Space

Minneapolis, MN, November 15, 2012—The Walker Art Center has announced a comprehensive, long-range campus planning project that will create a unified vision for the three main elements that constitute the its 17-acre campus: the main art center facility, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden operated in partnership with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and the four-acre green space adjacent to the main building. The planning project will help fulfill the Walker’s mission to be “a catalyst for the creative expression of artists and the active engagement of audiences,” building upon many recent successes on the Walker’s grounds, including the popular, summer-long Open Field programs.

A campus planning committee of the Walker’s Board of Trustees began work in 2009 under the direction of Walker Trustee James Dayton (Principal, James Dayton Design, Ltd.), who is currently the Walker’s Board President. “Jim was our ideal choice to oversee this process,” said Olga Viso, Executive Director of the Walker. “His professional experience as an architect coupled with his deep knowledge of the Walker’s vision, aspirations, and campus needs will help us craft a more holistic view of the possibilities of our broader campus.”

The committee and Walker leadership have identified three major areas of emphasis in the coming years: necessary repairs to the Walker’s 1971 building designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, a much-needed renovation of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, and the completion of the four-acre green space to the west of the facility. The three components have different timelines based on the Walker’s immediate needs and available funding.


The distinctive minimalist brick building designed by Barnes will undergo a much-needed resurfacing project beginning in late February 2013; the project will end in December 2013. The Walker facility will remain open during this construction process, with limited impact on public access to exhibitions and events.

Now more than 40 years old, the building’s brick façade needs extensive repair due to deterioration of its surface. With significant advances in the understanding of brick façades and construction since the building’s completion, the project will allow the Walker to substantially improve its climate control and energy efficiency with the addition of contemporary insulation techniques and newer vapor barrier technology.

“We will be working with HGA Architects and Engineers and Mortenson Construction on the project. They are both familiar with the Walker property and our unique needs, having both worked on the Herzog & de Meuron building,” said Phillip Bahar, Chief of Operations and Administration. “We’ll also be working closely with the City of Minneapolis and community and neighborhood groups to ensure that the project proceeds smoothly.”

The entrances on Hennepin Avenue and on Vineland Place as well as the City of Minneapolis Parking Garage will remain open to the public throughout the project. Gallery hours will remain 11 am to 5 pm, Tuesday through Sunday, with evening hours until 9 pm on Thursdays as usual.


Created in partnership with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in the summer of 2013, has become a beloved Minnesota destination. The Garden’s centerpiece is the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry, which has become a de-facto symbol for the community and region. Having welcomed more than eight million visitors since it opened, the Garden is in need of major infrastructure improvements due to the normal wear-and-tear of visitor traffic and the natural lifecycle of plantings.

The Walker will continue to work closely with the MPRB to seek funds in 2013 to repair and renovate the Garden’s deteriorating infrastructure as well as improve its environmental sustainability, energy efficiency, and green design. “The Walker and Park Board will continue to seek funds for renovation of the Sculpture Garden,” said Jayne Miller, Superintendent, MPRB. “The Garden renovation will ensure that the Garden remains one of the park system’s crown jewels, providing Minnesotans and tourists alike with a peaceful space in which to escape and experience one of our finest outdoor parks and the Walker’s remarkable sculpture collection.”


Over the last year the Walker has formally and informally engaged several architects and designers to consider how to best complete the four-acre green space adjacent to its facility that has become an important location for the Walker’s programmers and the public. “We intentionally took a more organic approach to planning the completion of the park space,” said Viso. “Our goal was to invite the public onto the space, see how they used it, and to make adjustments to our plan along the way. That’s where we find ourselves now.”

Since 2010, the green space has hosted numerous programs including the popular Open Field, a summer-long series of experiments in public participation and programming, offering numerous free community programs such as the Internet Cat Video Festival, which welcomed nearly 10,000 cat enthusiasts this past summer. The site is also the location of our ever-popular annual Rock the Garden concerts and the final installments of Summer Music & Movies. This past April, the Walker added a monumental new sculpture by artist Jim Hodges to the green space. Hodges’ four colorful boulders have become a new draw for the community and complement artist James Turrell’s sky-viewing chamber, Sky Pesher (2005).

Over the next several months, the Walker will review concepts and designs for the space, prioritizing those that support flexible programming and public use. “We look forward to sharing design concepts with our audiences in the months ahead and fundraising to support its realization,” says Viso.

Visitors enjoy the four-acre green space adjacent to the Walker.