Have you ever walked away from an attraction wondering if you are incredibly confused or maybe you were just blown away with the beauty in front of you? This is pretty much how we both felt as we left the Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis, Missouri after spending a couple of hours wandering around this amazing yet weird collection of exhibits.
We have traveled to St. Louis on numerous occasions and visited all of the mainstream attractions along with many off the beaten path neighborhoods. However, this was our first time visiting Laumeier Sculpture Park so it was nice to experience something new. I love architecture and Heather loves history, so when you throw a number of weird and wonderful sculptures in front of us…well you would think this is right up our alley!
Let’s take a look at what we experienced and share a few of our thoughts on why this place could be classified as ‘weird’ or ‘wonderful’ depending on your impression of Laumeier.
Laumeier Sculpture Park
12580 Rott Road
Saint Louis, Missouri 63127
Hours and Admission Prices
Open daily from 8:00AM to 30 minutes past sunset, one of the real attractive benefits of visiting Laumeier Sculpture Park is that it is FREE! It is open to the public year round though this venue is frequently used for special events.
During our visit we were among a large number of visitors who were clearly preparing for prom but this location does offer attractive backdrops for senior pictures, family portraits and engagement pictures so it is no surprise to see these types of events.
Navigating Around Laumeier Sculpture Park
After parking close to the Northern Grove and Museum Circle, we headed out and followed the trails around the park. You will find that this is the easiest and best way to ensure that you experience all of the exhibits. The paved pathway to see everything inside Laumeier will total around 1.5 miles round trip so not only will you experience some cool sculptures, it’s a perfect way to get your exercise in for the day!
Feel free to head off the beaten path, aka wandering across the grass, but be aware of your surroundings because there may be a sculpture waiting for you around the corner.
Laumeier Sculpture Collection
As you stroll around the 105 acres of Laumeier Sculpture Park, you will notice over 60 weird and wonderful sculptures on display. Depending on your personal interests and tastes, there will likely be something here that intrigues you, though of course you are well within your right to visit here and leave thinking this was a boring and pointless attraction.
Please note, we are NOT architectural/sculptural connoisseurs and the following are simply our opinions. Please visit Laumeier with an open-mind and we welcome all comments below on what you thought about your experience
We want to share some of our favorite exhibits along with some that we just thought we just a little weird.
The first sculpture we stumbled across was Bornibus by Mark di Suvero. You really can’t miss this sculpture given it’s size and magnitude located in the heart of the Museum Lawn. This is an interesting piece given that it’s a real reference to the urban vs rural landscape discussion that we see frequently in many cities.
This made me think of all the ‘green spaces’ we have in cities around the world such as Central Park or the High Line in New York City, and how for a moment you can just getaway and relax in a rural setting. This sculpture has the perfect backdrop with the rurality of the gardens yet the steel structure maintains the realization that you are still within the city limits.
A short walk from Bornibus is the wonderfully designed Treetent sculpture that is dangling on the side of one of the giant trees in the lawn. How cool is this? Designed by Dre Wapenaar in 2005, this is real iconic resemblence of how we live in today in conjunction with how many animals and wildlife live.
Of course this type of sculpture is one of the most popular especially for children as it is similar to stereotypical treehouses and other designs that we all dream about throughout our childhood years. A ladder allows visitors to climb up and enter the treetent and for a moment reminisce on camping holidays of years gone by.
This is definitely one of our favorite sculptures out here especially given that it is so different and in my opinion not really a sculpture given it’s functional use. Maybe we will see something like this in camping stores such as Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid in the near future!
If you are looking for something a little spooky while exploring Laumeier Sculpture Park, you don’t have to look far with the iconic Eye staring right at you in the heart of the Museum Lawn. Alongside the Treetent and Bornibus, the Eye by Tony Tasset is a gigantic eyeball that stares across the landscape and keeps a watchful ‘eye’ on everyone that walks by.
Do you believe in the “Someone is always watching you” statements? Well, you better believe it now as you explore Laumeier because this is one really cool sculpture! I love the details of the eyeball as you can see the veins and deep blue iris that immediately grabs your attention.
I have to admit the overall feeling of someone or something watching you is a little creepy but cool at the same time (maybe I am weird or perhaps just realistic…we are NOT going to get into the topic of governments and what information they have on all of us!)
Ball? Ball? Wall? Wall!
Ok so the first three sculptures that we experienced were all pretty cool but as we continued walking around the gardens, we stumbled across Ball? Ball? Wall? Wall! which is a series of 55 steel marine buoys located in the middle of a forest! The actual location is just beyond the Emerson Children’s Sculpture Garden.
Before finding out what these objects actually were, I wasn’t sure if they were oversized cannonballs or something creating a giant centipede! We found out these were formerly sea-worthy buoys yet we still were a little confused as to their purpose when you throw 55 of these together in a line.
Each object weighs 650 pounds and when you combine all of these together I am sure designer Donald Lipski had a deep underlying reason as to why creating such a bizarre sculpture was a reflection on his creativity.
Our journey around Laumeier continued with a visit to the wonderfully named Sugabus by Robert Chambers. I immediately told Heather that this reminded me of a dog, only to be proved right as I looked at the description and history behind this sculpture designed in 2004.
I find the name of this object particularly intriguing given that Sugabus is derived from the words ‘Sugar’ and ‘Cerberus’. What’s the relationship? Well, cerberus is a three headed dog in Greek and Roman Mythology. Throw in the interlocking elements that we associate with sucrose (namely hydrogen, carbon and oxygen) and there you have it!
Maybe Chambers is also trying to sweeten us into thinking this dog is not a fierce three headed creature, instead perhaps it’s a sweet canine waiting to be taken home! We will let you devise your own theories on Sugabus.
Another of the interesting sculptures is a dilapidated ruin in the Southern Woodland known as Recess. Designed by Geoffrey Krawczyk in 2014, this structure reflects the urban decline and decay of many areas within St. Louis.
It is specifically referring to the Cahokian settlements which was one of the most influential Mississippian cultures until the late 18th century.
Recess is a perfect depiction of not only St. Louis but any major city around the world that suffers from neighborhoods seeking gentrification to hopefully thrive once more.
We have shared just a few examples of the sculptures on display at Laumeier Sculpture Park. This is a highly recommended park to just walk around and enjoy the scenery and perhaps you will learn something out of the ordinary that will inspire you to explore other parts of St. Louis.
Researching all of the sculptures that we experienced has actually provided a better appreciation and allowed us to gain a better understanding as to what the designers were trying to achieve when constructing these masterpieces.
Do I still think Laumeier Sculpture Park is weird and wonderful at the same time? Of course…but I think you should decide for yourselves which side of the fence you want to lean on!
This is really annoying. David and I drove through St Louis in 2014 without realising how many amazing attractions it has. Don’t laugh but we even missed the Arch – hard to believe I know. Now we are going to have to go back and since we live in Sydney, Australia that is no small journey. When we do I’m getting a list from you of everything to see so I don’t miss a thing this time. BTW my favourite is ‘Recess’ – it reminds me of so many holidays, especially our first trip to Britain where I think we saw every ruin in the British Isles – and there are lots of them – lol.
I have to admit, when I saw the big eyeball and the title I laughed, as I could see right away why it was weird. Actually, it’s a lot more interesting than I would expect. I went to Uni in Missouri a long time ago and it was so conservative back then, I can’t imagine anything this interesting appearing. Thanks for changing my views.
I know this is probably a terrible thing to confess, but I’m not really all that interested in art, but I love sculpture parks. I like the large scale of the art, being outside instead of inside a stuffy museum and there are usually only a maximum of 10-20 on display so I don’t get art overload. I recognized the name of Mark di Suvero because I’ve seen two of his pieces in the Seattle Sculpture Park.
it’s definitely weird. Especially the eye sculpture. I hope you’re having a blast in the UK:)
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I love sculpture parks – looks pretty fab to me. (Like Recess and the eyeball!)
What an incredible place to visit! I love the sculptures, especially the Ball Ball Wall Wall. It makes you wonder how these creative people come up with their concept for such sculptures, doesn’t it?