Franconia Sculpture Park

Hm, I promised a post about Seattle art this weekend, eh? Though L and I went to an opening at McLeod Residence (the entire time I thought we were at Howard House, oops) we only spent a grand total of 6 minutes there, so I can’t very well write a post about that. 

Instead, I will write about my July visit to the Franconia Sculpture Park in Franconia, Minnesota. It is a sculpture park set in “16 acres of restored prairie” in a self-proclaimed rural setting. Surrounded by trees, corn fields and prairie grasses, the park is dotted with sculptures of all sizes, from gigantic steel structures to tiny bronze and wood figures hidden in the grass. I went with my mother, the person who taught me how to look at art, and my fiance, who is just learning to look at art, so the conversation was mostly limited to deciding if a sculpture attracted or repulsed any one of us. So I will spare you from any critical analysis.


Noelle Mason

Noelle Mason

What makes Franconia unique is–well, I’ll give you their mission: 

Franconia Sculpture Park works to nurture the artistic growth, creativity and interaction between emerging, mid-career and established sculptors in an outdoor, rural setting. An integral part of its mission is to enhance the cultural life of our community and nation through a diverse program of education and experimentation.

This might sound like a very tall order, but it is easy to see this mission at work simply by walking through the park and reading the short labels near each sculpture. Sculptors represented nearly every continent, and many were noted as participants in the fellowship program or the intern artist program. Several sculptors were at work in an open-air workshop at the edge of the park, and signs were posted calling for applications to the intern artist program. Even in a relatively passive visit (we didn’t talk to anyone, the park is not staffed) it was easy to see the mission in action. As someone who prefers to get information on my own and not be bothered by museum staff, the free-wandering non-structure of the park was appealing. But for those who like more interaction and structure, FSP also has tours by requests, hosts workshops and classes, holds traveling symposiums, and has a art and music festival once a year.


Kari Reardon

Kari Reardon

So, yes, I liked Franconia Sculpture Park. Unfortunately we picked one of those cloudless, windless, hot muggy days that are typical of Minnesota summer, and wandering through the prairie grasses I began to wish for a sun bonnet. Thankfully, the park has a freezer full of ice pops and an on-your-honor payment (two for $1), so thoughts of sun bonnets faded as I enjoyed the taste of lime flavored ice.


Karl Friederich

Karl Friederich

All images from the FSP website.




One response to “Franconia Sculpture Park

  1. On-your-honor payment for ice pops- that’s so Midwestern. I love it!

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