Have some nature with your art at Indy’s 100 Acres Park

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100 Acres Park in Indianapolis is not your typical green space. Unless your idea of a typical green space includes fiberglass benches designed to look like bones and basketball hoops with giant colorful swirly arcs.

Officially titled The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres, this space was created in 2010 near the campus of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It’s one of the coolest parks I’ve ever visited.

The first exhibit many visitors see is Free Basket, a basketball hoop surrounded by red and blue steel arcs designed to symbolize the trajectory of bouncing balls. Visitors are welcome to bring their own basketballs to make the piece interactive. Who wouldn’t want to shoot some hoops in this environment? Just be careful chasing after those rebounds.

free-basket

Throughout the park is a series of oddly-shaped benches known as Bench Around the Lake. This piece is conceptualized as one super-long bench that comes out of the ground in random places and then goes back underground.

bench-around-the-lake

Team Building (Align) consists of two 30-foot-wide metal rings. The amazing thing about this piece is that it was designed so that the shadows from these two rings perfectly overlap only at noon on the summer solstice. I can’t imagine how much work must have gone into getting these rings into their precise positions.

align-sculpture

Even the swings and tables at 100 Acres are part of the art. The artists from Swedish group Visiondivision created this pavilion almost entirely out of a single 100-foot-tall Indiana tulip tree.

chop-stick

It’s a giant skull! Spooky!

funky-bones-skull

Funky Bones is a set of 20 fiberglass benches formed in the shape of a skeleton. Kids (and quirky travel guys) enjoy running around and playing on the bones. Which are indeed funky.

funky bones

The newest exhibit in the park is Notice: A Flock of Signs, a set of random signs in the forest.

notice-flock-signs

The terms on the signs range from humorous to unfortunate to nonsensical, including “invasive species,” “a green thing,” “??????????,” “bark on tree,” “humankind’s inevitable impact on the natural landscape,” “dray of squirrels” and “scourge of mosquitoes.”

flock-of-signs

Park of the Laments is one of the more contemplative areas of the park. Guests follow an underground walkway that leads up into the center of the square, which is surrounded by grass, shrubs and trees. It’s a refuge within a refuge.

park-of-the-laments

When it came time to build a pier for the 35-acre lake, of course it had to be done artistically. Stratum Pier features stacked layers of fiberglass and steel designed to look like a topographical map. Clever! You can even fish from the pier, provided you have a valid Indiana fishing license.

stratum-pier

Look, it’s Indy Island! This capsule in the middle of the lake is 20 feet and diameter. Each year, an artist in residency lives and works here for six weeks. It’s hard to imagine a cooler place for an artist to spend a summer.

indy-island

If you visit the Art & Nature Park, make sure to make your way over to the actual Indianapolis Museum of Art to check out the LOVE statue.

love-sign-indianapolis

What, you thought the LOVE statue was a Philadelphia thing? It turns out that the original sculpture, created in 1970, sits right here in Indy. All the other LOVEs around the country are imposters!

I haven’t even touched on the sights inside the Indy Museum of Art – you’ll have to check those out yourself. Here’s a teaser: the view looking out from the lobby through the museum’s colorful windows.

indy museum windows

The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres is open from dawn til dusk and is free to visit.

Note: My visit to Indianapolis was made possible by Visit Indy.

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About Scott Shetler

Scott is a Chicago-based journalist and blogger who seeks out quirky sights and awesome destinations throughout North America and beyond.

6 comments on “Have some nature with your art at Indy’s 100 Acres Park

  1. My son and I visited the park when we were there Labor Day weekend. Some kids were playing basketball on that sculpture and he joined in. One of our better memories of the trip. Didn’t have a chance to check out the whole park, but it looks like a great way to spend a few hours in the outdoors.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted..New Mexico Reflections

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