20 Remarkable Years, Unforgettable Moments – Part One

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 five of the most memorable moments in our 20-year history:


1993: A Vision Takes Shape

Approached by one of the area’s major garden clubs, Fred Meijer was intrigued by the notion of creating a botanical garden and infusing it with a significant sculptural presence. He and his wife Lena generously donated 125 acres of land, their entire sculpture collection, and a major gift to the initial $13 million capital campaign, planting the seed for what is now nationally known as Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.


1994: Topping Off Ceremony

The Groundbreaking of Meijer Gardens began in August 1993, with construction beginning immediately thereafter. Nearing completion in 1994, a topping off ceremony took place. Fred and 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

After a ribbon cutting ceremony with Fred and Lena Meijer, President and Mrs. Ford and Governor Engler, Meijer Gardens opened to the public with the Lena Meijer Conservatory, the DeVos Family Gift Shop, the café, the Hoffman Family Auditorium, the Peter M. Wege Library, and the Hauenstein and Pfeiffer meeting rooms. The Victorian Garden, the Wege Nature Trail, the Frey Boardwalk, the Gardener’s Corner Gift Shop and the Christmas Around the World exhibit opened later that year.


1996: Debut of Butterflies Are Blooming

The very first Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition was held March 16-31, 1996. More than 50,000 visitors flocked to see thousands of tropical butterflies fly free in the Lena Meijer Conservatory. It became Meijer Gardens’ second exhibit to be held annually.


July 14, 1999: Installation of Aria

This monumental work by Alexander Liberman was dedicated at its new location along a newly developed, half-mile sculpture trail. It stands more than 42 feet enabling viewers to walk around and though the sculpture and references the artists admiration for architecture.

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