Leisure Features

Dorothy About Town: 9.13.17

When I think of Laumeier Sculpture Park, what comes to mind first is the gigantic, red, tubular sculpture The Way by Alexander Liberman. Then I envision the annual art show there, a Mother’s Day tradition since 1987. But during a recent docent-led tour around the park—offered free the first Sunday of every month, May through October—I was amazed by how much more the site offers.

Next month is the one-year anniversary of Laumeier’s new Adam Aronson Fine Arts Center. This structure, located near the original estate house, is used as the visitor’s center and for indoor exhibitions. It is a perfect example of what has helped Laumeier grow over the past 41 years from a family’s rolling parkland to a premier art center that “explores the relationship between contemporary art and the natural environment.” From the get-go, this park has been based on public-private partnerships.

Public officials convinced Matilda Laumeier to bequeath the property to the county in memory of her husband, Henry. A committee of interested citizens included artist Ernest Trova, who, in his determination to launch a worldclass sculpture garden here, promised to donate 40 of his works. This set Laumeier on the path to becoming one of the country’s first and largest outdoor sculpture parks. It is home to 70 significant works by artists known all over the world. St. Louisans who have never walked its 105 acres will be astounded by the art—and the acreage.

Did you know there are four woodland hikes on the property? And several ‘earth works,’ art created with trees, shade and grassland? There also is a children’s sculpture garden way back at the south end, near an area where art camps are conducted. Maquettes, which are small, preliminary models of the sculptures, are set out near many of the pieces and include braille depictions and explanations for the sight-impaired. As for tours, bravo to Laumeier for offering not only the Sunday tour I took, but free stroller tours the third Thursday of each month and special tours for those with memory loss.

I can’t name most of the pieces I saw that day or describe more than a handful of them (don’t miss the newest: a 12-foot-tall deer by Tony Tasset). But then that is not the point of the three steamy hours I spent there. Gaining a new appreciation for a place I have long taken for granted is