The Akron Art Museum unveiled its new $5 million garden over the weekend, which is free and open to the public.
The one-acre space on the museum’s southside that was once a parking lot now features a patio, birch trees and benches which can be used for concerts, weddings or even just people who want to eat lunch outdoors.
At the unveiling Saturday, State Sen. Tom Sawyer said the best description for the new space would be a reversal of the Joni Mitchell song, “Big Yellow Taxi.”
“They took a parking lot and turned it into paradise. They opened a tree museum. And instead of charging the people a dollar-and-a-half just to see them, they made it available to everybody.”
The new garden was funded with a lead gift from Rick and Alita Rogers, who named it for Rick’s parents, Bud and Susie -- longtime museum supporters.
Landscape Architect Lucinda Sanders designed the new garden, and recalls explaining to the museum’s CEO her idea to contour the garden to the existing landscape.
“The garden spans between High Street and Broadway. There's a 15-foot grade change, which is substantial. When Mark Masuoka interviewed us, I said, ‘you know that grade change out there is your friend.’ I think that’s why we got the job, because he said, ‘until you said that, we thought that big hill was a problem.’”
One of Sanders’ favorite features of the new space is a billboard-sized concrete wall, which she envisions as the perfect place to occasionally place a large canvas for children to color on. Sanders says a large bench will soon be installed on the east side of the garden, which can be used both for relaxing and even as a small performance stage.