December 1, 2017 – A new sculpture garden featuring several iconic pieces by French sculptor Auguste Rodin, cast from original foundry plasters created by Rodin’s own hands over 100 years ago, is now open in Tacoma, Washington. Weber Thompson’s Landscape Design Studio worked with the LeMay Collections at Marymount to design this unique Northwest destination utilizing local historic, reclaimed elements strategically placed along a half-mile walking path.
The Sculpture Garden is the first installation of the LeMay Fine Arts Collection, located on the historic grounds of Marymount in Tacoma, Washington. Sprawling over 80 acres, the former military academy is now home to some of the world’s most well-known sculptures including The Thinker, Eve and The Age of Bronze. For nearly 30 years, the property has been primarily home for an antique car collection that the Guinness Book of World Records lists as the ‘Largest Privately Owned Car Collection in the World.’ The LeMay family is dedicated to the preservation of these artifacts on their land for future generations to come.
The LeMay Collections held a Centennial Celebration for donors and patrons on the 100th anniversary of Rodin’s death on November 15th, 2017. Attendees were the first to view a new addition to the collection, a small bust of The Age of Bronze, which will be part of an indoor gallery to open in 2018. The official grand opening of the LeMay Fine Arts Collection will take place in the spring of 2018, but visitors are currently able to enjoy the sculpture garden, which is included with admission to the LeMay Collections at Marymount.
The sculptures are some of the best known works of French artist Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). Rodin was part of the Symbolism movement, which had an emphasis on forms that were expressive and represented the meaning behind ideas. Rodin became known as the father of modern sculpture by challenging the classical and refined sculpture styles of the early 1800’s in favor of rougher, more unfinished surfaces and simple poses that conveyed the human experience.
Rodin was known for his reuse of the same figures in different compositions, most notably in his piece The Gates of Hell, as well as modeling the same figure at many different scales. The latest addition to the LeMay Collection highlights this aspect of the artist’s career and aspires to showcase Rodin’s skill at working in varied scales.
About the Rodin Sculpture Garden Design
Weber Thompson’s design embraces the spirit of the entire collection, by honoring the site’s history in the most authentic and respectful way possible. To the LeMay family, each object or artifact is as personal as the army of volunteers that lovingly care for the site. The story of each vehicle, its past owners and significance are carefully documented. What may be 100 years old looks brand new, expertly buffed and preserved, a tribute to the care and craft that goes into each item.
The sculpture garden’s design is inspired by a combination of the site’s splendor, religious history and the LeMay family’s love for beauty in design. The incredible art of Auguste Rodin typifies the aesthetic embraced throughout the Marymount campus and the Collections in general. Architectural brick details and archways found on the historic Dominican Catholic school structure inspired the primary features within the Sculpture Garden, using reclaimed materials (some from the Nalley Valley) to construct many of the garden’s elements.
The garden pathway is nestled within a 100-year-old Douglas Fir forest. The design embraces this natural setting, with minimal impacts to the quiet and serene quality of the site. Architectural elements were used sparingly, crafted from materials that contribute their own story; wood used in the garden’s trellises and benches was salvaged from Tacoma’s own century-old Nalley Foods pickle plant that closed in 2002, and giant sheets of steel that now serve as backdrops for the sculptures were previously stockpiled on another LeMay property. These rustic, authentic materials enhance and frame the unique setting for the Rodin sculptures.
For Weber Thompson’s Landscape Principal, Rachael Meyer, the opportunity to contribute to the site was very rewarding. ”This project is an authentic representation of the diversity of the LeMay Collections,” she notes. “Most people are aware of the family’s car and memorabilia collection, but not many people know of their appreciation for the artistry of industrial design or the extent to which the site is a tribute to the American story. Building on the juxtaposition between what is old and what is new, the success of the garden design is evident in how integrated the sculptures feel in the natural, forested setting.”
How to Visit the Sculpture Garden
The Rodin Sculpture Garden at LeMay Collections at Marymount is open year round, and is included with the cost of admission to the Collection. Collection admissions are free for Members, $15 for Adults, $5 for youth ages 6-17, and free for ages 6 and under. It is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9am-5pm and Sunday from noon-5pm. The Lemay Collections at Marymount are located at 325 152nd ST East, Tacoma WA, 98445. Please call 253-272-2336 for additional information.
About Weber Thompson’s Landscape Design Studio:
Seattle-based Weber Thompson is a full service, West coast design firm specializing in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and community/urban design. Weber Thompson’s award-winning Landscape Studio is led by Principal Rachael Meyer. With a strong focus on sustainable landscape design and green stormwater infrastructure, the studio believes in landscapes of exceptional creativity and thoughtfulness that are sensitive to the earth and respond to the built world around us. For more information go to www.weberthompson.com or contact Weber Thompson at (206) 344-5700 or email@example.com.
About the LeMay Collections at Marymount:
The LeMay Collections at Marymount are dedicated to preservation, education, exhibition, and community engagement through automobiles, memorabilia, fine arts and historical collections at the historic Marymount Military Academy. Begun in the 1960s by Harold and Nancy LeMay, the LeMay Collections include over 1,500 vintage vehicles, plus related Americana, historic dolls and toys, as well as vintage industrial equipment and memorabilia. The LeMay Collections at Marymount was established so future generations may enjoy all these artifacts year-round! For more information about the LeMay Collections please visit www.lemaymarymount.org or call (253) 272-2336. To learn more about the Rodin Sculpture Garden, please visit www.lemayarts.org.