Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park
Backstory and Context
About the Park
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the 100 acres now known as the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park was cleared for agriculture and pasture along the White River floodplain. In the 1940s, it became a gravel quarry for the construction of the nearby interstate, creating the 35-acre lake now standing in the park. Once the highway was finished, the fields, left to themselves, slowly became a woodland again. The owners of the quarry, Huber, Hunt and Nichols, donated 96 acres to the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) in 1972. The IMA Horticultural Society and Sasaki Associates planned the landscape and gardens at the museum itself in the 1980s, but in 1996 a new master plan called for an outdoor sculpture park on the unused land. Partnering with Indy Parks Greenways and the Indianapolis Water Company, the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park was created by the museum. Designed by landscape architect Edward L. Blake, Jr., the Park was intentionally left "wild" rather than manicured, with hands-on exhibits which highlight the natural setting. Art installations include Atelier Van Lieshout’s Funky Bones, Jeppe Hein’s Bench Around the Lake, Los Carpinteros's Free Basket, Alfredo Jaar’s Park of the Laments, visiondivision's Chop Stick, Type A's Team Building (Align), Andrea Zittel's Indy Island, Kim Beck's A Flock of Signs, and Kendall Buster’s Stratum Pier. The park's LEED-certified Ruth Lilly Visitor's Pavilion is a flagship project for the No Adverse Impact philosophy of the Association of State Floodplain Managers, and won architect Marlon Blackwell the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2012 Honor Award .
The park's sculptures are "hands-on" exhibits
which offer visitors activities including fishing, basketball, challenge
courses, play and picnic areas, climbing, swings, refreshments, an educational
center, and an artist's residency. The southwest corner of the park is a
wildlife retreat, while nature trails lead visitors through the park and around
the lake. The park offers weekly free public tours, free audio tours through
the IMA website, and holds annual events celebrating the Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice,
and Fall Equinox .