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Laumeier Sculpture Park, a unique open-air museum in St. Louis, has been ranked one of the top five parks of its kind in the world. "We are one of the first sculpture parks to be established in the world with a focus on modern and contemporary art," says Glen Gentele, the park's director. "The collection is monumental in scale and includes excellent examples of site-specific sculpture."
The 105-acre park includes an impressive collection of more than 80 outdoor sculptures by internationally acclaimed artists. The sculptures are set in open meadows and nestled along paths in thick woods to create a one-of-a-kind outdoor environment that mixes art with nature.
Works on display include Redwood 1, which was carved from the trunk of a single redwood tree by Austrian artist Johann Feilacher. Set in a small clearing in the woods, the work towers 36 feet, and it is thought to be the largest contemporar wood sculpture in extistence. The Way, by American artist Alexander Liberman, is a favorite sculpture of many park visitors. The sculpture is 65 feet tall and 100 feet wide. Made of steel and painted red, the column-like components are reminiscent of the architecture of a classical Roman temple.
American artist Beverly Pepper created Cromlech Glen, an open-ended earthen circle that forms the banks of a 21 foot high, steep-sided amphitheater that appears in the woods almost as though it is a prehistoric shrine. Sandstone steps lead up from each end of the mounds, and a path continues along the narrow ridge at the top. "Monumental sculpture should energize and activate space while involving people," Beverly says. Chromlech Glen achieves this by functioning as a place for meditation and small performances.
The installation of each new piece at the park is overseen by the artist and open to the public. Site selection is an important part of the process, and when the time comes for a sculpture to be erected, the project becomes a ceremony.
From 1941 until 1968, the property was the manicured estate of the Laumeier family. When the estate was donated to the people of St. Louis County, it was with the understanding that the land would be maintained to preserve the topography for the enjoyment of visitors. The park was established in 1975 with a collection of 40 works by Missouri arist Ernest Roval, whose sculptures are now part of the park's permanent collection.
Laumeier Sculpture Park is accredited by the American Association of Museums, and honor earned by only 10% of museums nationally. The park offers indoore exhibitions that include more sculptures, paintings, and other works of art, as well as public programs including Art Fair, Art Camp for children, a summer concert series, and more. The trail system includes paved sections, and several sculptures feature small-scale models cast in bronze along with interpretive information in Braille for the visually impaired.