Moving large-scale outdoor sculptures doesn’t happen on a whim. Unlike in traditional brick-and-mortar museums, we can’t just rearrange the works we have on view from our Permanent Collection without asking questions like: “What size crane do we need?” and “What will the weather be like?” And inevitably, when determining a new location for a sculpture, we have to consider how the artwork will interact with the natural environment and impact the visitors’ experience. Recently, we’ve explored the topic ‘archaeology of place’ in our exhibitions and educational programming, but the thinking that ‘sculpture makes place’ has long guided our Collections activities at Laumeier. Through our loan program, we have the opportunity to share our expertise and resources while further extending our reach into the community and fulfilling a leadership role in the field of sculpture. Laumeier’s mission is to explore how art relates to the natural environment, and visitors to our Sculpture Park experience art in an entirely different way than they do in an urban setting. Both experiences stimulate a unique dialogue about contemporary art, especially when given the opportunity to view the same work in each setting.
Almost a year ago, Tom Lang, Chairman of the Art Department at Webster University, asked us to collaborate with them as they began to expand the presence of sculpture on their St. Louis campus. They had just formed an Art Council to further integrate sculptural art into their mission of creating global citizens. This partnership was realized with an initial loan of Window 1/3, 1989 by Jene Highstein, an eight-foot-tall bronze sculpture that combines the ‘reductive simplicity of Minimalism with the sublime quality of an earthwork.’ Whether quietly discovered amidst the trees on a leisurely walk through our Park, or quickly observed standing between Academic buildings on a daily rush across campus, Highstein’s work makes an impression on its viewer.
In December, Tom Lang and I met again to discuss the new installations around their campus, our continued partnership, and so I could check up on our Highstein in its “home-away-from-home” location, standing proudly in front of the East Academic Building on Garden Avenue. This loan wasn’t one of the most complex moves to orchestrate last year, but it did require three men and a forklift.
Collections Manager / Registrar