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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park meant to recreate a 'natural space'

The Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park is located on the Northwest corner of Angela Boulevard and Eddy Street, and was funded by Charles B. Hayes family which has deep ties with Notre Dame.  

“Charles B. Hayes, Charles S. Hayes, his son and Charles B. Hayes’ grandchildren all came to Notre Dame,” the Snite Museum of Art's director of marketing and communications Gina Costa, said. 

The site of the sculpture park was formerly a landfill but nationally-renowned landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh appreciated the rolling topography of this neglected site, Joseph Becherer, director of the Snite, said.

Courtesy of the Snite Museum of Art
One of the sculptures featured in the park is called "Tale Teller VI," and is by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa.

“The sculpture park was designed by a very famous landscape architect whose name is Michael Van Valkenburgh,” Becherer said. “The basic idea ... for that site was to try to recreate a natural space that would be familiar to someone like Fr. Edward Sorin when they came and founded Notre Dame.”

The evolution and creation of the site took time.

“The project was really years in the making. But it was only dedicated a year ago this autumn. So it's still pretty new,” Becherer said. 

Becherer also emphasized the unique “nature-centered” feature of the sculpture park. 

“The idea of the sculpture park in terms of horticulture is not to have something that’s very manic here with cut grasses and shaped bushes, but to have something that feels very natural in terms of tall grasses and tall shrubs and native trees,” he said. “We don’t have to use a lot of pesticides. We don’t have to do a lot of watering irrigation. We’re really letting nature do its thing.”

One of the highlights among 12 sculptures in the sculpture park is a piece created by Fr. Austin Collins.

“I really enjoy the fact that we’ve got one of Fr. Austin's pieces — which is the large green tower in the park — because it makes the park very strongly connected to the University,” Becherer said. 

Costa believes the sculpture park can invoke “contemplative experiences” from the students. 

"The arts are such integral parts of students’ engagement and process at Notre Dame,” she said. “What would the educational experience at Notre Dame be without the arts? The students at Notre Dame are so fortunate to have this incredible museum, the sculpture park and a campus that is full of beautiful sculptures to really elevate and augment their educational experiences.”

As an extension of the Snite, the sculpture park contains artworks by some of the finest contemporary sculptors around the globe. 

“I think that one of the things that we have a responsibility for is to celebrate that long relationship between the Church and the visual arts,” Becherer said. “So honoring the tradition, but also embracing the world, that’s what the museum is all about.”