Arts and Culture

After spending three years and $60 million on redesigning the interior of the Speed Art Museum, Chief Curator Erika Holmquist-Wall says staff began turning their attention to how the space outside the museum is utilized.

This is due, in part, to the overwhelming public reception to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads.” This series of a dozen 10-foot-tall sculptures — each representing an animal from the Chinese Zodiac — was installed on the museum lawn facing Third Street in October.

“Putting the zodiac in has really just transformed the lawn and really activated the space,” Holmquist-Wall says.

While she says in the past individuals may have just passed the museum building without stopping, she is noticing more and more pedestrians detouring to interact with the public artwork.

“So we’re kind of in the final push to encourage people to come see the animal heads,” Holmquist-Wall says. “They are going to be coming down at the end of September.”

But while this installation is coming down on Sept. 24, Holmquist-Wall says now that the museum has been reopened for a little over a year, staff have had a chance to observe how people use the space outside.

They have considered the traffic patterns and how pedestrians interact with the museum grounds in different ways.

“We kind of had a little bit of a waiting period,” she says. “But it’s given us a lot of ideas and we’ve gotten a lot of feedback on how we can better expand the museum beyond the building.”

Holmquist-Wall says there will several events planned around the sculpture’s departure — details will be announced soon.

Ashlie Stevens is WFPL's Arts & Culture Reporter.