Press release: Saint Louis Art Museum marked second anniversary of East Building by opening new sculpture garden

By | July 1, 2015

ST. LOUIS, July 1, 2015—More than 2,000 visitors turned out Friday (June 26) to celebrate the grand opening of the Saint Louis Art Museum’s Grace Taylor Broughton Sculpture Garden, the culmination of a campus expansion that included the opening of the East Building two years ago.

The new garden showcases the Art Museum’s strong, international collection of modern and contemporary sculpture in a landscape design that connects the expanded campus with its Forest Park setting.

Landscape designer Michel Desvigne’s vision called for sculpture to be installed in self-contained “rooms” created by more than 400 hornbeam and serviceberry trees. Near the museum, trees are planted close together in a tight grid pattern evoking the coffered ceilings used in the museum’s new East Building. The plantings become less geometrical as visitors move away from the museum, with the garden eventually disappearing entirely into informal parkland.

The transformative project and an endowment to fund its upkeep are made possible by a gift from Barbara B. Taylor, president of the Art Museum Board of Commissioners, and Andrew C. Taylor, executive chairman of St. Louis-based Enterprise Holdings, Inc. The garden is named in honor of their granddaughter, Grace Taylor Broughton.

The new sculpture garden will complete the phased landscape plan designed by Paris-based Desvigne in concert with David Chipperfield’s design of the Art Museum’s East Building, which opened in June 2013.

“Today marks the culmination of a journey which began more than a decade ago, when the design for the Museum’s expansion project was first being conceived by Sir David Chipperfield,” Brent R. Benjamin, the musuem’s director, said at Friday’s opening event. “Working closely with David, landscape architect Michel Desvigne conceived a vision that would seamlessly connect the three buildings of the museum’s campus to the rolling landscape and wooded surroundings of our home in Forest Park. This graceful, elegant garden will extend our visitors’ experience of art beyond the walls of the Museum, inspiring reflection and contemplation of the significant sculpture from the Museum’s collection which has been installed in Michel’s ‘outdoor galleries.’”

In his remarks, Desvigne said he and Chipperfield faced the same challenge of building on what he called “an abstract pedestal” in the heart of St. Louis’ 1,300-acre Forest Park. “The garden design extends this pedestal and introduces an intermediate scale between the museum and the vast landscape,” he said.

The garden will be installed with works in the Museum’s collection, including sculpture by Mathias Gasteiger, Jacques Lipchitz, Aristide Maillol, Nagare Masayuki and others. Two masterworks— Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Venus Victorious and Henry Moore’s Standing Figure—are animated by water features. The garden will complement other works already installed outside, including Andy Goldsworthy’s Stone Sea; Bryan Hunt’s Charioteer; Henry Moore’s Standing Figure; Alexander Calder’s Phrygian Cap; Roxy Paine’s Placebo; and Claes Oldenburg’s Giant Three-Way Plug, Scale A.

Desvigne was appointed the Museum’s landscape architect in December 2006. His landscape projects include Millennium Park in London’s Greenwich Peninsula, Luxemburg’s Draï Eechelen Park and the New Qatar National Museum in Doha. Desvigne teaches at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where he is the Peter Louis Hornbeck Design Critic in Landscape Architecture. He recently was awarded the leading role in the planning and implementation of the Paris-Saclay cluster, the landscape and urban plan for the development of Euralens, as well as the redevelopment of the old port of Marseille, awarded “prix de l’aménagement urbain” in 2013.

Honored with the Medal of the French Academy of Architecture (2000) the French national Urbanism Grand Prize (2011), Desvigne’s landscape projects include Millennium Park in London’s Greenwich Peninsula, Luxemburg’s Draï Eechelen Park and the New Qatar National Museum in Doha.

The design team also included HOK (architect); HGA Architects and Engineers (landscape architect of record); HOK Lighting (lighting design); Magnusson Klemencic Associates (structural and civil engineers); and KAI Design Build (MEPF engineering). BSI Constructors was the general contractor for the project.

CONTACT: Matthew Hathaway, 314.655.5493, matthew.hathaway@slam.org