The Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester celebrated a groundbreaking on Monday, September 13 for the expansion of its Centennial Sculpture Park.  The project furthers MAG’s commitment to the community, beckoning neighbors and visitors with an outdoor gallery that is always open and always free.

In 2013, MAG opened the Sculpture Park to mark its 100-year anniversary. Phase 1 transformed the open lawn in front of the museum, located in the heart of the Neighborhood of the Arts (NOTA). Since then, the community has enjoyed all that the Sculpture Park has to offer, including 12 major works by celebrated artists Wendell Castle, Jackie Ferrara, Tom Otterness, Albert Paley, and others. The Sculpture Park has also been a gathering place, with live music at the annual M&T Bank Clothesline Festival, dance performances on Celebration Days, outdoor yoga classes, and summer camp activities.

This expansion is Phase 2, enlivening the remaining two acres of the grounds along University Avenue to Prince Street by adding a number of sculptures, including a major site-specific commission. MAG expects to complete the Sculpture Park expansion fall 2022.

For the Sculpture Park expansion, MAG’s curators wanted to feature playful approaches to art that would draw people to the grounds while also showcasing important artists from underrepresented backgrounds.

The expansion will feature a sculpture by Pia Camil, a Mexican artist, and a commissioned work from Rashid Johnson, an African American artist who is one of the most influential voices of his generation. Pia Camil’s Lover’s Rainbow will be installed along University Avenue, inviting people to walk under and around the colorful, welcoming gateway. SOTA students were the inspiration for Rashid Johnson’s sculptural pavilion, a powerfully expressive mosaic which will be installed near Prince Street, welcoming students and the community at large.

Three leading funders propelled the Centennial Sculpture Park expansion. A generous bequest from Betty Plumb Miller will leave a lasting legacy in recognition of her mother, Lucy Plumb. In addition, Bob Goergen, former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Rochester, and his wife Pamela are supporting the project with work from their personal outdoor sculpture collection. The project also received a $600,000 grant from Empire State Development through the 2019 New York State Regional Economic Development Council initiative. MAG continues to fundraise for an endowment to support the Sculpture Park, ensuring the urban green space will be accessible to all, forever.

Rep. Joe Morelle, State Senators Samra Brouk and Jeremy Cooney, Assemblymembers Harry Bronson and  Demond Meeks, Deputy Mayor James Smith, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello also participated in the groundbreaking ceremony, along with MAG Board members.

“Congratulations to the Memorial Art Gallery on entering Phase 2 of the exciting Centennial Sculpture Park project, which highlights artists from underrepresented backgrounds,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “It’s truly amazing how this project has transformed our eclectic Neighborhood of the Arts into a unique oasis of creativity, vitality, and community. I am grateful for their commitment to strengthening diversity in the arts and look forward to seeing the Park’s completion!”

Senator Samra Brouk (SD-55) stated “The Memorial Art Gallery is a cornerstone of the Rochester Community, and I am honored to help them usher in a new era with Phase 2 of the Centennial Sculpture Park. The MAG makes art accessible to our community, and this sculpture park is another way in which they give our community something to treasure. I look forward to seeing the completed park, and continuing to advocate for the arts in my capacity as a New York State Senator.”

“As Chair of the Assembly’s Economic Development Committee, I am excited for the Memorial Art Gallery’s Centennial Sculpture Park expansion.” Assemblymember Harry B. Bronson (D-Rochester/Chili/Henrietta] said. “The MAG is a committed and invested economic anchor for Rochester’s thriving Neighborhood of the Arts (NOTA) and this Phase 2 expansion will attract even more visitors to the area. I commend the MAG for selecting artists from underrepresented backgrounds, which will make the Sculpture Garden even more reflective of the diversity within the community.  I look forward to joining the families of Rochester for a walk around these beautiful grounds in the future.”

“I am grateful to see the strong emphasis towards community engagement with the creation of Sculpture Park.” Said Assemblymember Demond Meeks. “Our students and families deserve a peaceful space dedicated to self-expression and the artistic achievements of the people of our city. I hope that this expansion to the Memorial Art Gallery will serve as a source of inspiration and collaboration for members of our community.”

Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO and co-chair of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Bob Duffy said, “The Memorial Art Gallery’s Centennial Sculpture Park is a beautiful addition to Rochester, and brings the magic of art onto our streets for the entire community to enjoy. Greater Rochester Chamber is delighted to support Phase 2 of the project, which will add even more vibrancy to this rich cultural area. We thank the State for their $600,000 grant through the Consolidated Funding Process, as well as the generosity of so many donors and patrons.”

“The Sculpture Park beautifies, unifies, and enriches our community,” said Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director Jonathan Binstock. “Completing the Sculpture Park will enhance MAG’s role as an ever-evolving, collaborative, urban museum that is always reaching out to welcome more people.”

For more information about the expansion of the Sculpture Park, please visit MAG’s website.