Judge blocks demolition of art installation at Des Moines park

  • A federal judge has temporarily blocked the demolition of Greenwood Pond: Double Sight, an aging art installation in a Des Moines park.
  • U.S. District Judge Stephen Locher ruled that the work’s artist, Mary Miss, will likely succeed in arguing that its demolition is a breach of contract.
  • Installed in 1996, the piece is considered a highlight of Miss’s artistic career, but it is in disrepair and will cost an estimated $2.6 million to restore.

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a plan to remove a nationally famous outdoor artwork adjacent to a pond in a Des Moines park, saying the New York artist who created it violates his contract to destroy it. It was determined that there was a high probability of success on this claim. Local art center.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Locher issued the temporary injunction Monday afternoon after hearing arguments earlier in the day about the Des Moines Art Center’s plan to remove the work, called “Greenwood Pond: Double Sight.” I ordered him to give orders. The center was scheduled to begin a roughly three-month process this week to drain the pond and remove the artwork.

Art center officials say the piece, completed in 1996, has deteriorated beyond repair and is now a danger to park visitors. This artwork offers different perspectives of Greenwood Pond, including a wooden deck over the water and walkways that allow for eye-level and overhead views of the water and wetlands.

Prominent art installation in Des Moines Park scheduled for demolition

This work is considered a highlight of land artist Mary Miss. Other artists and arts organizations across the country have expressed outrage at plans to remove the installation rather than try to raise funds for its restoration.

FILE – Greenwood Pond and some of the famous land art works Greenwood Pond: Double site shown, April 3, 2024, Des Moines, Iowa Plans to remove the artwork were temporarily blocked. Des Moines City Park. In a ruling Monday, a judge found that New York artist Mary Miss’ claim that the destruction of her work violated an agreement with a local art center is likely to succeed. (AP Photo/Scott McFetridge, File)

Ms. Miss said the art center had not provided her with information about the work she had created, in violation of a contract that required it to maintain the wood, concrete and metal artwork and not remove it without her permission. He insisted that it would happen.

“We are pleased and relieved by Judge Locher’s ruling, not only because it reaffirms the rights of all artists and the integrity of their legacies, but also the decision against Greenwood Pond: Double Site.” said in a statement. “Let us seize this opportunity to achieve results that we can all be proud of.”

Art center officials estimate that restoring the artwork will cost $2.6 million and said public safety is their primary concern, but they intend to abide by the court-ordered moratorium. Many of the works are currently fenced off.

“We respect the court’s decision and are suspending plans to remove the artwork from Greenwood Park,” the art center said in a statement. “Area declared dangerous and unrecoverable will remain fenced off.


A judge will set a hearing for a later date for Ms. Miss, who is seeking a preliminary injunction to continue delaying the demolition plan while the contract dispute is fought in court.