Entering (and winning!) the Loeschner Art Competition


Rachel Van Wylen. Japanese Garden, 2015. Linocut on paper.


It’s a chance to be part of our permanent collection.

The Ray and Nancy Loeschner Art Competition is for two-dimensional art (e.g. drawing, print, pastel, painting and photography) inspired by the grounds and collections of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

The objective of the competition is to collect high quality work that would celebrate the beauty and inspiration found in our Gardens and Sculpture Park.

A $5,000 purchase award will be paid for the winning entry in addition to becoming a part of Meijer Gardens’ permanent collection.


2015 winner Rachel VanWylen (4th from left)

The 2015 winner was artist Rachel VanWylen. Her winning entry, Japanese Garden, is a beautiful Linocut on paper.

“Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a great source of inspiration for anyone working in the arts, since walking around a beautiful outdoor environment allows one to slow down and make space for creativity,” said VanWylen. “It is lovely to turn the corner of a path and come across a thought-provoking piece of contemporary sculpture or a dozen colorful fish darting about in the coy pond.  I’m not living in West Michigan anymore, but I miss being able to visit the gardens.”


Rachel VanWylen and her  collegue Jonathan Rinck visiting the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden for inspiration before creating her winning piece.

VanWylen would encourage artists of all abilities to participate. “I think anyone who finds the gardens inspiring should go ahead and enter the competition!  The process of getting to know the Gardens and responding to them creatively is a gratifying one regardless of whether or not you win, and there are so many delightful spots to discover in the Gardens.”

The Print.jpg

The finished print before framing.

VanWylen described her fascination with the qualities of the spaces we inhabit and the way we feel in those spaces. “The sense of awe I feel in the presence of mountains or reverence I feel upon entering a cathedral is immediate and visceral,” she said. “Similarly, when I visited the Japanese Gardens at Frederik Meijer and walked along its gentle, winding paths, I felt a sense of tranquility and quiet. This feeling was the inspiration for my entry to the Loeschner Art Competition.
“As I was designing the piece I drew inspiration from Japanese woodblock prints. My own piece is carved into linoleum, not wood, but the process is similar to that used in woodblock printing.  I also borrowed pictorial devices from traditional Japanese printmaking, since the strong diagonals and balanced asymmetrical composition in my design are typical of Japanese prints.”
Visitors can see VanWylen’s print hanging in the Peter M. Wege Library.

“It’s an honor. There are many pieces at Frederik Meijer Gardens that I admire, so being part of the permanent collection is exciting.”


September at a glance

16-101XX_M&M_Facebook_2016_640x360_Mobile_1September, for many, marks the beginning of a new school year and here at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park it marks the beginning of two major exhibitions.

  • Chrysanthemums and More!
    • An annual celebration of autumn, Chrysanthemums and More! is the largest of its kind in Michigan, featuring expansive chrysanthemum displays, fall foliage and family-friendly activities.
    • September 16 – October 30th
  • Almost Home: Grand Rapids in Focus
    • Grand Rapids has nurtured a significant community of artists, locals and transplants alike. This exhibition invites these artists to reflect on their experiences with Grand Rapids as the conceptual foundation of new work. Cultural, social, environmental and aesthetic reflections connect a diverse number of works in a variety of materials, installations and forms. Gathered together, they provide a current framework for a place that for many is almost home.
    • September 16—December 31, 2016 (ArtPrize: Wednesday, September 21—Sunday, October 9)

  • Read & Explore: Art and Gardens Book Group
    • Gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama as we discuss this novel in the tranquil and beautiful setting of The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden. We’ll begin in the Zen-Style Garden and watch and listen as Dave Rettig, Lead Horticulturist, rakes a portion of it. Dave will share his insights into the importance of rocks, water and plants in a Japanese garden and we will read passages to spur discussion.
    • Sept  27th, 4:00 p.m.
  • Tree-mendous Kids’ Tram Tours
    • Board the Kids’ Tram for an engaging experience all about trees. Travel through the Sculpture Park, visit The Groves and come away with a new understanding of Michigan trees. Hop on and off at specific stops to participate in kid-friendly activities.
    • September 10 – October 29, Saturdays only at 11:45am, 1:15pm and 2:15pm


Hope to see you before October!

August at a glance


Can you believe it’s already August? Just like summer is starting to wrap up, we have a few things wrapping up as well at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

  • “Mimmo Paladino: Present into Past” closes
    • Italian sculptor, painter and graphic artist Mimmo Paladino is among the innovative artists responsible for the revival of figurative art at the end of the 20th century. You can find Paladino’s pieces in the sculpture galleries and in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. In addition, the artist is working in conjunction with our Horticulture staff to create a unique body of drawings specific to the flora of Meijer Gardens. “Mimmo Paladino: Present into Past” closes on August 14th, so be sure to get in one final visit.
  • Dahlia Show
    • Marvel at the variety of colors, shapes and sizes of dahlia flowers. Find a flower the size of a dinner plate and a pompon dahlia that forms a perfect sphere. View creative floral arrangements too. Dahlia Society members will be on hand to answer questions and provide tips on how to grow these beautiful flowers. The show is included with your admission!
  • Read & Explore Charlotte’s Web
    • Enjoy E.B. White’s classic for children in the perfect setting—our barn at Michigan’s Farm Garden, complete with Charlotte’s web! Discuss questions such as what makes a good friend and which character you identify with, then participate in acting out one of the scenes (choose a starring role or just be part of a group). Play a Web of Words game about spider misconceptions and learn about spiders as “garden helpers”. Then make your own spider web to take home. After the program, walk out to see our enormous, 8-foot Spider by Louise Bourgeois in the Sculpture Park.
  • Meet Me at the Fair Weekend
    • There is something for everyone at the fair. View live farm animals and vote for your favorite. Join in traditional fair games such as beanbag toss, hula hoops, and bucket bonanza. Participate in a variety of “home arts” including spool knitting and sewing card quilting. Even enjoy a pie making demonstration, where sampling is a must!
  • Final Tuesday Evening Music Club Concert
    • The Tuesday Evening Music Club brings talented local and regional musicians to the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater stage Tuesday evenings—free to Meijer Gardens members—throughout July and August. Click here for the schedule of performers.


Hope to see you before September!

Pokemon Go: Virtual, reality

PokemonGo_MeijerGardens_1If you’ve been living under a Geodude, you might not know about the Pokemon Go phenomenon. Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game where players use GPS and smart phone cameras to track down, catch and collect “pocket monsters.” Millions of people all over the world have downloaded the game and become passionate players.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has dozens of Pokestops scattered all over our grounds as well as three gyms where players can battle and train their Pokemon, making it a hot spot for Pokemon trainers.

However, there’s more to be found at Meijer Gardens than Pokeballs, potions, and a Bulbasaur or two. We are home to a world-class sculpture collection, an eight-acre oasis in the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden, alongside many beautiful gardens, winding walking paths and tumbling waterfalls.

Normally, we encourage visitors to put their phones in their pockets and enjoy the sights as a respite from constant connection to our screens. But Pokemon Go is an opportunity to make the most of both worlds.

pokemon group“I’ve loved Pokemon since I was little, so Pokemon Go has really made me feel like a kid again,” said Ashlee Gross, the organizer of a group event that recently brought about 100 people out to play the game at Meijer Gardens together. Most of the people in the group hadn’t met before the gathering.

“People that would have normally never met are now walking together, talking together and even laughing and joking together now that they have this one thing in common. In a
world where we seem to be divided in more ways than one, this is really important,” she said.cropped

And while Meijer Gardens is always a beautiful place to take
photos, the game can be a fun way to tap in to your creativity and capture an interesting image as you capture more Pokemon. If you’ve snagged a great screen grab, please share it with us! Use the hashtag #MeijerGardens. The photos are also a great way to remember the rest of the Gardens and Sculpture Park.



We hope that you enjoy your experience playing here at Meijer Gardens to the fullest! To do that, Officer Jenny has a few safety reminders:

Please watch where you are going! Be mindful of the people around you and aware of your surroundings, and please don’t touch or climb on any sculpture. While catching a Gyarados certainly would be exciting, it would not be worth an accidental swim in one of our water features.

Visit only during our open hours! Those are 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday, with Tuesdays open late until 9 pm, and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm.

While you spend time at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park we sincerely hope you catch ‘em all, and at the same time enjoy a rich cultural experience.

July at a glance

ampitheater.jpgWelcome to July! A Michigan summer is certainly hard to beat. We are now entering the heart of the season, and are making the most of it at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

From the start of a new concert series featuring local performers, to the chance to look inside a traditional Japanese Teahouse, there are exciting events coming up for everyone to enjoy.

Here are some of the highlights this month:

  • The Tuesday Evening Music Club kickoff
    • Quickly becoming the summer’s best family entertainment value, the Tuesday Evening Music Club brings talented local and regional musicians to the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater stage on Tuesday evenings in July and August. Concerts are free for members and included with paid admission to Meijer Gardens for the general public.
  • Inside the Japanese Teahouse
    • Experience the tranquil ambiance and exquisite architecture of our authentic Japanese Teahouse. Take special note of the master carpentry, contrasting woods, patterns and textures and numerous distinctive details. This opportunity is included with admission on a first-come, first-served basis, weather permitting. Guests will be asked to remove their shoes (so you may want to plan accordingly). 
  • “Explore the Outdoor Gardens” Tram Tours begin
    • Experience our beautiful outdoor gardens through the eyes of our senior horticulture staff. Travel on pathways not accessible to the Daily Tram, discover interesting and unusual plants, and gain insight into ways they are used. Whether you have a green thumb or you simply admire beautiful gardens, you’ll enjoy this very insightful and inspiring tour.
  • Daylily Show
    • Discover an amazing variety of daylily flowers at this show—see flowers that vary in size from less than one inch across to almost 10 inches and discover spider, ruffled, and “eyed” forms.  View creative flower arrangements and vote for your favorite daylily.  Receive tips and advice from Daylily Society members while younger visitors enjoy a fun “Build a Daylily” art activity.


We hope to see you before the month is done!

New York based Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners selected for expansion project

We are pleased to announce that New York firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners has been selected to re-envision and expand our facilities. The firm was selected as part of a rigorous international search that began a year ago with more than sixty firms.
“Meijer Gardens has grown tremendously since opening in 1995 and has become Michigan’s leading cultural destination, welcoming visitors from across the nation and internationally. In 2015, 776,928 people chose to visit the park,” said David Hooker, President and CEO of Meijer Gardens. “We are excited to draw upon Tod and Billie’s creative vision and talent and work with them on this exciting project. Their unique perspective will further enhance our mission and dramatically improve our guest experience.”
Well-known for their masterful design of the iconic Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and, most recently, the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University, Williams and Tsien see architecture as “an act of profound optimism.”
They have discovered a similar spirit in Meijer Garden’s unique marriage of beautiful art and inspiring green spaces. “We are deeply honored to be have been selected by Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park for this special project,” said Williams and Tsien. “From our very first visit, we were struck by the incredible quality of the sculpture collection and its sensitive installation throughout the grounds, as well as by their magnificent new Japanese Garden. We saw that the place and the people here are unique.”
Williams and Tsien are currently studying Meijer Gardens’ organization and mission in the context of providing a peerless visitor experience. The design effort is focused on advancing the organization’s unique mission of horticulture and sculpture, honoring its donors, and maintaining its commitment to accessibility, diversity, and the environment.

TWBT, 2012, Photo by Thomas Grimes

Billie Tsien & Tod Williams, photo by Thomas Grimes


About Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners:

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have been working together since 1977 and founded their architectural practice in 1986. Located in New York, their studio focuses on work for institutions including schools, museums, and not-for-profits—organizations and people who value issues of aspiration and meaning, timelessness and beauty. Their buildings are carefully made from the inside out to be functional in ways that speak to both efficiency and the spirit. A sense of rootedness, light, texture, detail, and most of all, experience, are at the heart of what they design. Over the past three decades they have received more than two dozen awards from the American Institute of Architects, as well as numerous national and international citations. Outside the studio, Tod and Billie are devoted participants in the cultural community and have long-standing associations with many arts organizations. They maintain active academic careers and lecture worldwide. As both educators and practitioners, they are deeply committed to making a better world through architecture.

2016 Fifth Third Bank Summer Concerts at Meijer Gardens


We are pleased to announce the Fifth Third Bank Summer Concerts at Meijer Gardens with an eclectic 30-show lineup. This lineup reflects a strong commitment to bring high quality, talented and broadly diverse artists to Meijer Gardens.

Our Member Presale will begin on Saturday, April 30, 2016 and close Friday, May 13, 2016 at midnight – sales will resume for members and the public at 9 am on May 14, 2016.

To help members and guests prepare for buying tickets and getting the best entertainment value possible, we have created an Insider’s Guide to help make every concert experience easy and hassle-free.

What concerts are you planning on attending?

Tears for Fears, June 6 at 7 p.m.
An Evening with The Monkees, June 8 at 7:30 p.m.
America, June 12 at 7 p.m.
Of Monsters and Men, June 13 at 7 p.m.
Ziggy Marley, June 15 at 7 p.m.
Tedeschi Trucks Band, June 17 at 6:30 p.m.
Michael Franti & Spearhead, June 22 at 7 p.m.
Fitz and the Tantrums, June 26 at 7 p.m.
An Evening with Jackson Browne, June 27 at 7 p.m.
Gregg Allman, June 29 at 7 p.m.
Ben Folds with yMusic, July 10 at 7 p.m.
The Decemberists, July 11 at 7 p.m.
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, July 13 at 6 p.m.
Old Crow Medicine Show, July 14 at 7 p.m.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, July 17 at 6:30 p.m.
Femi Kuti & The Positive Force Band and Bombino, July 20 at 6:30 p.m.
An Evening with Lyle Lovett and his Large Band, July 24 at 7 p.m.
Diana Ross, July 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Goo Goo Dolls, July 27 at 7 p.m.
Jay Leno, July 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Grace Potter, August 3 at 7 p.m.
WAR & Los Lonely Boys, August 10 at 6:30 p.m.
Toto, August 14 at 7 p.m.
ABBA the Concert: A Tribute to ABBA, August 17 at 7 p.m.
An Evening with The Beach Boys, August 21 at 7 p.m.
Lake Street Dive, August 24 at 7 p.m.
Seal, August 26 at 6:30 p.m.
Bonnie Raitt, August 31 at 6:30 p.m.
O.A.R., September 1 at 6:30 p.m.
Gavin DeGraw & Andy Grammer, September 7 at 6 p.m.