Louisville art museum expands outdoor public art experience
Public art spaces remove common barriers like admission costs and restrictive hours. The Speed Art Museum is expanding its public art offerings with a new sculpture park slated to open in 2025.
The Speed Outdoors is designed to be a green space and community gathering point that will bring the art museum's collection beyond its gallery walls.
Three acres of the Speed Museum’s property will be transformed to include 150 native trees and 13 sculptures donated by the estate of the late Rev. Al Shands and his wife, Mary Shands.
“Our vision is simple: to provide our city with an outdoor space that visitors can enjoy whenever they choose to open our gates and never close them,” said Speed Art Museum director Raphaela Platow at a press conference Tuesday. “Like art and beauty and joy, the space is for everyone to experience in their own way and on their own time.”
Public art has been shown to have mental, emotional and physical benefits to community members who can access it. It can help bring residents together, encourage outdoor exploration and help create a sense of identity or recognition for a city.
“Nature and art are both vital ingredients for any city and for developing of all of us,” Platow. “Clean air, movement, relaxation and inspiration are all powerful prescriptions to combat chronic disease, isolation and depression.”
The sculpture park at the Speed Art Museum will join the many public art spaces in the city.The Alley Gallery, a mural of Muhammad Ali by Shepard Fairey and engraved poetry on downtown sidewalks are some examples.
During the unveiling of Fairey's mural in April, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said his budget for the city would include funding for public art to help continue to create more. Greenberg was at a “ground planting” ceremony for the Speed Outdoors Tuesday.
“I was part of 21c Museum Hotels, and we saw how public art can really help transform communities, it can help revitalize communities,” Greenberg said.
He said the combination of public art with a green space will enrich residents' minds and create a healthier city overall. Speed Outdoors staff will offer year-round community programming.
“Activating spaces within the park and attracting new guests to the museum grounds will offer such options as classes and concerts, tours and camps, " said chair of the Speed Outdoors committee Viki Diaz.
She said students would be able to use the sculpture park as a classroom and that will make the Speed Outdoors a space where people can take in cultural experiences.
Speed Outdoors is expected to open in late 2025.
Editor’s note: The Speed Art Museum provides some financial support to Louisville Public Media.