Reclaiming our Nature – Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park

The Vision

Noted American landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh immediately appreciated the site’s serendipitous qualities produced from past neglect. It enjoys rolling topography because it was once a landfill. Mature trees were likely planted to hide the dump and their lofty canopy is the result of aggressive pruning to clear unsightly underbrush. The water element controls runoff from acres of adjacent Stadium parking.

The fortuitous evolution of this Notre Dame site from historic disregard to present natural beauty suggested the overarching theme for both park and inaugural exhibition: Reclaiming Our Nature.  This refers not only to sculptures selected to celebrate the natural environment but also to others acquired to support humankind’s universal desire for spiritual transcendence.

An Arts District for Notre Dame

The Sculpture Park is part of a larger vision for this southern entrance to campus:

Creating an arts district.  The DeBartolo Performing Arts Center and the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park are in place; the School of Architecture building is under construction just north of the Sculpture Park; the new Raclin Murphy Museum of Art at Notre Dame will be constructed within the Sculpture Park; and the Department of Art, Art History, and Design will also one day be located within this arts district.  Peer institutions, such as Stanford University, have created arts districts because they understand important cultural offerings are necessary to attract and retain the best students and faculty.  They also understand that contemporary careers require creative thinking and visual literacy.

Creating a literal gateway to the local community.  In addition to sharing arts resources with the local community, this sector of campus features parking, retail, hotel, and dining options found within Eddy Street Commons.  The Compton Family Ice Arena has one rink dedicated to regional youth hockey.  Innovation Center makes connections between Notre Dame researchers and regional entrepreneurs.

Creating a “greenbelt” at the southern campus entrance.  Driving west on Angela Boulevard, one sees the meadow that circles the Compton Family Ice Arena, the natural landscape within the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park, the Irish Green lawn, tree-lined Notre Dame Avenue, and Cedar Grove Cemetery.  This “greenbelt” creates a gracious, natural southern entrance to campus.

Creating a sacred space.  The theme of the Sculpture Park exhibition is Reclaiming our Nature.  This not only refers to creative transformation of an historic landfill to a wetlands and prairie, but also to the selection of some sculptures to express humankind’s universal desire for spiritual transcendence. For example, the Life of Christ/Cycle of Life sculpture pathway was created to encourage prayer, reflection, and meditation.

Learn More about the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park here.

Raclin Murphy Museum of Art
About the Series:

Engage with the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art by exploring their collection through background information and reflection questions. For more information on the collections, please visit the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art website.

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April 2, 2020

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