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, and part of the Newfields complex, 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, and definitely one of the most fun attractions in the state of Indiana.
Sights at 100 Acres Park
Note that my visit was a few years back, so some of these attractions may no longer be part of the park. You might find some exhibits that are even cooler than these!
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.
Throughout 100 Acres 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.
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.
Even the swings and tables at 100 Acres Park 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.
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.
The newest exhibit in the park is Notice: A Flock of Signs, a set of random signs in the forest.
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.”
The Nature Side of the Park
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres Park is open from dawn til dusk and is free to visit. Make sure to also check out the Cultural Bike Trail and the Indianapolis 500 Museum while you’re in town!
Note: My visit to Indianapolis was made possible by Visit Indy, who covered my expenses while I was in town