About the Sculpture Park
Noted American landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh immediately appreciated the site’s serendipitous qualities produced from past neglect. It enjoys rolling topography because it was once a landfill. Mature trees were likely planted to hide the dump and their lofty canopy is the result of aggressive pruning to clear unsightly underbrush. The water element is a retention pond for runoff from acres of adjacent parking.The Snite Museum of Art Advisory Council initiated a Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park—its construction is funded by their generous gifts. The fortuitous evolution of this Notre Dame site from historic disregard to present mad allure suggested the overarching theme for both park and inaugural exhibition: reclamation of nature and self.
Notre Dame Sculpture Park and future site of art museum Indigenous trees, shrubs and prairie grass return the Midwestern site to how it might have looked at the founding of Notre Dame. Van Valkenburgh has carefully selected plants to retain the beautiful light that filters through the tree canopy and to celebrate Notre Dame’s four seasons. Indigenous plants have added benefits of not requiring irrigation, fertilization, chemical spraying or annual pruning.
The sculpture park creates a public space for contemplating nature and art. Groups enjoy walks, conversing with friends, brown-bag lunches, as well as impromptu class sessions, poetry readings and musical concerts.