{Germany} Sculpture Park Waldfrieden

March 13, 2015

Germany

Every now and then, a new museum gem gets added to a city (unless you’re Washington, D.C., where they seem to be building new museums all the time…), and for Wuppertal this comes in the form of the fantastic sculpture park ‘Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden’, which already stuns you with artworks as you approach.

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Set in one of Wuppertal’s many woodlands along one of Wuppertal’s many hillsides, the sculpture park covers around 30 acres. Parts of the grounds occupy the estate of the Villa Waldfrieden, which was developed after the end of World War II for paint manufacturer and entrepreneur Kurt Herberts (when I lived in Wuppertal, just a few roads down from where the sculpture park now is, it was called the ‘Herberts Park’). To this has been added several acres of woodland with its thickets and mixed tree forest.

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The sculpture park was founded and designed by British artist Tony Cragg, who moved to Wuppertal in the late 70s (my small claim to fame, I went to school with Cragg’s sons), who bought the abandoned property in 2006 as he was looking for a permanent site to exhibit his somewhat large artworks. Two years later, the sculpture park opened under the auspices of the Cragg Foundation,exhibiting a steadily growing collection not only of Tony Cragg’s own large oeuvre but also of other artists.

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Just a walk around the winding paths of the estate grounds and surrounding woodland alone, on a beautiful day makes for a great visit, surrounded by chestnut, linden, locust, maple, larch, oak, beech, sequoia, ginkgo, cherry, lilac, wisteria and rhododendron (I’m not an expert on trees by the way, I looked it up on their website^^). Spring has only just begun, so we were mostly treated to bare branched trees and the occasional crops of snowdrops, but my parents assure me it looks absolutely stunning in full bloom – and seasonally pretty in the snow.

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Add to this the around two dozen artworks that are lurking around every corner, glimpses of which you can catch through the trees, until suddenly you find them looming overhead. And in the middle of the woods you are surprised with a clearing, with a carpet of lush green grass and yet more sculptures. With such a unique setting, you can forgive the fact that you spend most of your visit walking up or down hills – and there are plenty of benches along the way if you need to take a rest (#MuseumBoy, on later being asked what his favourite part of the park had been, truthfully answered “The benches!” LOL.)

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The afore mentioned Villa Waldfrieden also still sits on site – an historic listed building, which has been restored and is now houses the Foundation’s administrative office, archive, and Tony Cragg’s study, as well as hosting cultural events.

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And the site also includes two exhibition halls – one built on top of Kurt Herbets’ former swimming pool – to house sculptures that cannot be exhibited outdoors. Here, changing, temporary exhibitions showcase international artists, as well as being venues for lectures and concerts. Sadly, the most recent exhibition in the upper, larger exhibition hall (see first photo below) had just finished, and we didn’t make it to the one in the lower, smaller exhibition hall (see second photo below) as the boys were getting hungry.

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Speaking of hungry, after your visit to the sculpture park, you can reward yourself for managing all those hilly paths with ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ at the adjacent Café Podest, which offers an array of hot and cold drinks, mouth watering cakes, and savoury dishes.

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Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden and the café are open Tuesdays to Sundays from March to October, Fridays to Sundays from November to February, and on public holidays. Full details of opening times and admission prices can be found on their website. Note that due to the hilly terrain, the sculpture park only offers limited access to the disabled and, as I can now attest through first hand experience, is not suitable for prams – even if you are happy pushing your pram up and down the hills, the majority of paths are covered in deep gravel, which is really hard going. If we go again, I’d definitely take #MuseumBaby in the sling instead (and the café does have a baby changing table).

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If you happen to find yourself in Wuppertal, the Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden is definitely an absolute ‘must see’!

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