Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love

The case for new space.

"People deserve a place that inspires them, challenges them, and offers opportunities to consider the beauty and mysteries of the human experience."
Fred Meijer

An ever-changing, exceptional experience.

Since its 1995 opening, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has evolved into a major cultural attraction focusing on horticulture, sculpture, the natural environment and the arts. The original vision has grown into one of the top cultural destinations in the United States, known internationally for the quality of gardens and art.

Our growth in visitors has been nothing short of phenomenal! Matching that has been the growth of our art collection, dedicated garden spaces and educational offerings.

Since the beginning, our focus has been on delivering an exceptional experience for every member, guest, artist, gardener, student and volunteer who visits Meijer Gardens. Our Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love capital campaign will enable us to keep this promise.

Through the generosity of The Meijer Foundation, our Board of Directors participated in a master planning process, to address facility needs in response to our significant growth. Outside professional assistance from Progressive AE and Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. has helped complete our process. Specific criteria were developed to guide the expansion of our facilities.

  • Furthering our mission:
    Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park promotes the enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of gardens, sculpture, the natural environment, and the arts.
  • Continuing to honor Fred and Lena Meijer and all our generous donors.
  • Creating spaces that allow people to safely and easily move about and inspire them to engage with our mission.
  • Planning for annual guest attendance of 1.2 million to 1.5 million.
  • Creating additional LEED-certified and architecturally significant spaces.
  • Conducting and completing a worldwide search for an architectural partner with national and international experience creating cultural institutions.
  • Adding parking capacity and significantly improving accessible parking and vehicle movement.

Read more about the project in the Campaign Booklet available here.

Video Updates

Watch Us Grow!

The Case for More Space

Simply put, we didn't anticipate growth of this magnitude so quickly.

At the same time, this provides an amazing opportunity for Meijer Gardens to build on our success—to bring joy to more visitors, welcome new audiences, educate more people, create unique exhibitions, and offer new and distinct visual experiences, year-round.

With more space, we can enhance the experiences of our members and guests. We can ease ticket lines, host more events, and give guests more room to move about during our popular exhibitions. We have updated and expanded our storage areas, to continue the safekeeping of our valuable works of art and maintain our archives, containing important historical documents. Changes in these areas are critical to helping us preserve and promote our mission.

Expansion Timeline

New Welcome Center

The 69,000-square-foot LEED certified Welcome Center is a major architectural feature of our campus. Our dramatic increase in attendance is the driving force behind it: More than 750,000 people now move through a space originally designed to accommodate an annual attendance of roughly 200,000. The new Welcome Center greatly enhances our guests’ arrival, admission and orientation experience.

New Covenant Learning Center

The Covenant Learning Center engages learners in new ways and reinforces our commitment as the cultural education go-to place. At 20,000 square feet, the new center enhances our programming quality and variety. The space promotes interactive learning, fosters creative thinking, integrates technology and supports a wide range of educational offerings.

New Cook Transportation Center

As our main campus has grown to 158-acres, tram tours have become a popular feature of the Meijer Gardens guest experience. In addition to these guided tours, trams support weddings and other special events. The new Cook Transportation Center offers more covered space and accessibility for waiting guests, provides a convenient restroom stop, and houses offices for staff and volunteers.

Expanded and Upgraded Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater

Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater—the premier West Michigan outdoor venue for legendary and local musicians—provides an intimate setting where artists connect with fans on a uniquely personal level. While maintaining this intimacy, the amphitheater expansion provides an increase in sponsor seating, a new support building that adds more food and beverage capacity, and restrooms outside of the entry gates for people waiting to enter the venue.

New Frey Foundation Plaza

The Frey Foundation Plaza architecturally and functionally ties together the entrances to the Welcome Center and the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater. These are the only two places where guests enter Meijer Gardens. The conveniently located plaza brings more parking spaces closer to guest entry points. The plaza, also an outdoor gathering place, strongly represents our dual mission elements: horticulture and sculpture.

Expanded and Renovated Existing Building
Our significant attendance growth has also necessitated an expansion of the BISSELL Corridor, which has been widened to accommodate increased guest traffic. This will provide a larger footprint for annual exhibitions and greater access to our renovated and expanded sculpture galleries. The expansion connects the new Welcome Center on two levels, creating a seamless integration that will enhance the guest experience from visual and accessibility perspectives.

New Meijer-Shedleski Picnic Pavilion

Outdoor picnicking has been given the proper space and beauty most befitting this favorite guest tradition. The pavilion dramatically expands the number of guests who can participate and offers close, convenient restrooms and parking. The architectural and natural beauty of this area will strongly support our mission.

Expanded and Accessible Parking and Urban Gardens

This expansion and redesign has doubled the number of parking spaces located within a one-to-two-minute walk of our Welcome Center entrance. The new configuration offers additional accessible parking spaces near the entrance, increases the number of parking spaces overall, and adds new urban and rain gardens to control water runoff— honoring our commitment to be good stewards of our environment.

Gardens & Sculpture Changes and Additions

Dramatic changes in the Meijer Gardens footprint has made it necessary to move to new spaces or re-create existing gardens—such as the Tassell-Wisner-Bottrall English Perennial Garden and Volunteer Tribute Garden. Existing and newly acquired sculptures have been artfully sited in these spaces in accordance with our unique mission. Together, these exciting changes will create a new aesthetic for our guests—and fulfill our promise to be Always Growing, Always Beautiful, and Always New.

New Endowment Fund

The endowment supports the financial health of Meijer Gardens, making sure this cultural institution brings joy to as many guests as possible—for as long as possible. Expanding our facilities requires additional endowment funds to provide adequate support and the continuing viability and sustainability of the institution. This is an important part of honoring Fred and Lena Meijer’s enduring legacy.

The Architects

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien—internationally renowned for their masterful designs—are the visionaries behind the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University and the iconic Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. The Barnes Foundation contains the most significant collection of Impressionist and early modern art in the world, including works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent van Gogh. It is interesting to note that the Barnes Foundation is a product of Dr. Albert Barnes’ love of art and Mrs. Laura Barnes’ love of horticulture. Most recently, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects was selected from a prestigious group of seven finalists to design the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.

Unforgettable spaces like these come to be only through uncompromising collaboration between the architects and the institutions. Ours is no exception. The spirit of shared respect and fluid partnership continues to energize every step of our journey.

Guided by Tod and Billie, the design team has ensured the new Meijer Gardens campus is an expression of our mission—in form and function.

Watch Us Grow!