When I was a teenager, my grandfather told me that if I was going to have a reputation, I might as well make sure it is a good one. That statement has been a guiding light to me throughout my life. Loveland, Colorado seems to have endorsed the same motto in their city and that is most evident in the 10-acre Benson Sculpture Garden. In 1985, the City of Loveland embraced their love of the arts by creating Benson Sculpture Park. Since then, one park has grown into four free sculpture parks that have given Loveland the reputation of being one of the best, if not the best, collection of free public art sculptures in the USA. The Benson Sculpture Garden was the first and it is one of the biggest tourism attractions in Loveland.
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What is Art for Art’s Sake?
The slogan art for art’s sake was translated from the French l’art pour l’art, a term coined in the early 19th century by a French philosopher named Victor Cousin. At a time when some questioned the value of art in society, Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wild and others argued for the doctrine of art for art’s sake. The phrase means that art has an inherent value independent of politics, religion, economics or even its subject matter. In building a 10-acre sculpture garden that is free to the public, is wheelchair accessible, family-friendly, and dog friendly, the City of Loveland has embraced the principles of art for art’s sake.
history of the Benson Sculpture garden
In 1961, the Benson family donated a portion of their family farm to the City of Loveland for use as a public park and a wetlands area to provide a refuge for birds. The land had been in the Benson family since 1877. In 1984, a group of five Loveland sculptors – George Lundeen, Dan Ostermiller, George Walbye, Fritz White, and Hollis Williford – along with other interested citizens proposed the idea of a sculpture garden and a sculpture show to help fund it. The first Sculpture in the Park event was held in 1984, with 50 artists participating. 2000 people attended the event. In 1985, the City of Loveland officially designated Benson Sculpture Garden. The Loveland High Plains Arts Council manages the annual sculpture show and oversees the artistic development of the park.
Where is Benson Sculpture Garden located?
The Benson Sculpture Garden is located at 1125 W. 29th Street in Loveland, Colorado. It’s at the corner of 29th Street & Beech Drive – across from Loveland High School.
How Many sculptures are in the benson sculpture garden?
There are 178 sculptures in the Benson Sculpture Garden as of February 2024. The combined value of the art is estimated to be over $5 million USD. New sculptures are added every year, so this number continues to rise. The garden contains sculptures by many different artists from around the world in both modern and contemporary styles. See a complete list of the sculptures here.
Map of the Benson Sculpture Garden
Click this link to see a map of the Benson Sculpture Garden. The park has a gazebo, water fountains, restrooms, benches and a paved walking path that is wheelchair accessible, family-friendly and dog-friendly. There’s also a pond and a wetland area that attract a wide variety of birds.
Are there guided tours available?
A limited number of guided tours are available to groups of ten people or more and these must be booked in advance. To inquire about scheduling a tour, contact the Loveland High Plains Art Council by email at [email protected] or by phone at (970) 663-2940.
Sculpture in the park – the largest juried outdoor sculpture show in the united states
The first annual Sculpture in the Park show was held in 1984 and 2024 will mark the 40th year of this event. The first event featured 50 local artists and saw 2,000 people attend and purchase $50,000 in art. The event has expanded over the years attracting artists from around the world who work in a variety of mediums. Today it is the largest outdoor juried sculpture show in the United States drawing thousands of visitors and generating sales well over $1 million. The event helps to fund the expansion of the Benson Sculpture Garden and it takes place the second weekend of August annually.
Other Sculpture Gardens in Loveland, Colorado
The Benson Sculpture Garden was the first sculpture park in Loveland, Colorado. Today there are three other sculpture parks in the city – Chapunga Sculpture Park, McWhinney-Hahn Sculpture Park and Foote Lagoon.
Why you should visit the Benson Sculpture Garden
Benson Sculpture Garden is unique in the world. This 10-acre outdoor art park has a pond and a lake and a beautiful walking path that will take you past 178 different sculptures. It’s one of the most impressive outdoor public art displays in the United States and its completely free. While in Loveland, I had a chance to spend some time at all of the sculpture parks. I have to admit that I loved the Benson Sculpture Garden the best. As a photographer, I really wished I would have had more time there so that I could capture the sculptures with the perfect light. I have included a few images in this post. It is a small sampling of the many beautiful sculptures on display at the Benson Sculpture Garden. Loveland has built a well-deserved reputation as an art lover’s city.
Related: Learn to take better pictures with your phone with these quick and easy Phone Photography Tips.
Where to Stay in Loveland
We stayed at The Hampton Inn Loveland. The hotel was clean and comfortable and breakfast was included. The property has a pool, but we didn’t use it. Other good options include the Best Western Plus Loveland Inn and Embassy Suites by Hilton Loveland Conference Center.
Where to Eat in Loveland – Best Restaurants
There are quite a few good restaurants in Loveland, Colorado. We absolutely loved Doug’s Day Diner! We had a wonderful breakfast there, but you had better go hungry. The food and service were both fantastic. We also enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Door 222. Coincidentally, we had the same server at both restaurants.