Rockford Park District brings ‘LIGHT’ to Conservatory

(Pictured above: Munro’s iconic Water-Towers sculptures.)

By Anne E. O’Keefe
Rockford Area Arts Council

Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens is bringing artist Bruce Munro next summer with a garden-wide sculpture exhibition called Bruce Munro: LIGHT. British native, Munro is known for his large light-based sculpture installations which have been featured in museums around the world. The Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens exhibition is Munro’s first exhibit in the Chicago region, and is guaranteed to draw a wide range of visitors.

The magnitude of this exhibition for our region is impressive. It’s so generous of the Nicholas Conservatory to celebrate their fifth birthday with this generous gift to Rockford! The Nicholas Family Foundation continues to show their support of projects that make Rockford stand out as a destination for garden and art lovers alike. There are still opportunities for you to contribute too.

This exhibition opens June 3, 2017 and will require the work of many as well as a dedicated legion of volunteers. Another project of this scale that came to mind was The Gates, a creation by Bulgarian artist Christo Yavacheff and French artist Jeanne-Claude. Central Park in New York City was festooned with 7,503 vinyl “gates” along 23 miles of pathways. The exhibit ran from February 12, 2005 through February 27, 2005 and local artist, Valerie Olafson traveled to New York to work on the project.

“Working on the Gates was an incredible experience in so many ways; the honor of working with Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the camaraderie of working on a crew of 600, experiencing the finished installation. The most significant aspect of the installation was the ability of art to not only entertain and elate people, but to unify people from all over the globe,” said Olafson.

Bruce Munro: LIGHT will run from June 3, 2017 through November 13, 2017. The exhibition is Munro’s eighth large-scale garden exhibition in the U.S. The Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens campus will provide a stunning backdrop for eight sculptures, including Munro’s iconic Field of Light and Water-Towers. Two new works will also debut: Sun, a monumental globe suspended inside the Conservatory, and Don’s Flamingos, a playful homage to the designer of the pink lawn flamingo, Don Featherstone.

“It is a great privilege to create an exhibition at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, and I was captured by the landscape of the garden and the Rock River adjacent. Gardens are very special to me because it’s an opportunity to re-engage people with real life, with the beauty of a garden, and that sense was with me when I visited the Conservatory,” said artist Bruce Munro.

Installation of the exhibit will take roughly four to six weeks. Throughout the installation and during the exhibit, Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens will need volunteers to not only help create the sculptures, but to give tours. Exact dates and times for volunteer opportunities are still being identified, but you may sign up now at

Check out Mr. Munro’s inspiring work at I cannot wait to see this visionary work bring “Light” to our riverfront and a sense of wonder to us all.

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