Birmingham Museum Sculpture Garden 1994
At 30,000 square feet, this new sculpture garden approaches the size of a football field. Its multi-level form was conceived by Zimmerman and was refined and developed by the artist in collaboration with the building’s architect, Edward Larrabee Barnes and project director Anne Wattenberg. The sculpture garden is divided into three distinct spaces: the Red Mountain Garden, with two specially commissioned tile pools; the Lower Gallery; and the Upper Plaza. These divisions allow for different exhibitions to occur at the same time without visually conflicting with one another.
Red Mountain Garden was the museum’s original garden and was used and will continue to be used for openings and social events. Its bluestone terrace is suited to display small-cale sculpture from the museum’s collection: Rodin, Hepworth, and Botero.
The Lower Gallery, 41 feet wide by 90 feet long, is an outdoor room that has a special gravel floor underlaid with drains and water taps, and the walls have sources for electricity. It can be used for traditional sculpture display or for temporary multimedia installations and fountains.
The Upper Plaza has access from the Red Mountain Garden and from the new contemporary galleries inside the museum. It is a huge space to accommodate large-scale sculptures and is designed to support extremely heavy loads. The oversize granite pavers cover an electric grid that artists can access if needed.
Zimmerman’s idea was to make these spaces as flexible as possible to allow very new and media-oriented works to be displayed as well as large-scale contemporary object sculptures.
The eastern edge of the Upper Plaza is enclosed by Zimmerman’s Lithos II, a monumental water wall and pool of textured and polished granites. The forms reflect the stratifications in the quarry walls the artist visited near Birmingham. The bands of colored rock were deformed over time into dramatic shapes and surfaces. Lithos II was inspired by these formations.
120-foot-wide x 300-foot-long tri-level plaza
Granite, water, and landscape materials
Birmingham Museum of Art
Architect: Edward Larabee Barnes & Anne Wattenburg
Stone supply & fabrication: Cold Spring Granite Company;
Fountain engineer: Dr. Gerald Palevsky