Calder Gardens will be the first site wholly dedicated to the art and ideas of Alexander Calder, a native Philadelphian who is considered one of the most innovative and influential artists of the twentieth century. With galleries illuminated by natural light, in a structure ensconced in a flowing landscape of native and flowering species, Calder Gardens will present a rotating selection of masterworks from the Calder Foundation, New York, including mobiles, stabiles, monumental sculptures, and paintings.
The nonprofit organization was launched by a group of Philadelphia philanthropists working in collaboration with the Calder Foundation and in partnership with the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. While governed by its board and curatorial committee, Calder Gardens will be operated by the Barnes Foundation—a renowned cultural and educational institution—to provide administrative, operational, and educational programming support when the new site opens to the public in what constitutes an unparalleled model for institutional sustainability and efficiency.
Alexander Calder was born in Philadelphia, and his connections to the city are grounded in the rich artistic lineage of his family. A trio of sculptures by three generations of Calders can already be found along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway: at the southeast end, atop City Hall, is Milne’s monumental statue William Penn (c. 1886–94); at the midpoint is Swann Memorial Fountain (1924) by Stirling; and at the northwest end is Calder’s monumental mobile The Ghost (1964), hanging in the main hall of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This project celebrates and builds on that legacy.
The project is being spearheaded and supported by a group of Philadelphia philanthropists working in partnership with the Calder Foundation, including the Neubauer Family Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, H.F. Lenfest, and an anonymous donor, as well as the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The site is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway between 21st and 22nd Streets, across from the Barnes Foundation and the Rodin Museum.
Calder Gardens will feature a building conceived by Pritzker Prize-winning design practice Herzog & de Meuron and gardens by internationally acclaimed Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf. Installed both indoors and outdoors, Calder’s art will be in constant dialogue with nature and the changing atmospheres of the seasons.
Though the project is still in early planning stages, a substantial amount of the funds needed to build and endow the project has already been secured. Additional details on the funding and project will be shared in the coming months.
The groundbreaking was held on 15 November 2022 and doors are scheduled to open to the public at the end of 2024.
Construction is not expected to begin until this winter. However, there is currently work being done on the site in preparation for the Calder project to relocate a water main that currently sits below grade.