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Prominent art installation at Des Moines park set for demolition

Crews could begin removing a groundbreaking art installation next to a Des Moines pond as early as next week, under plans announced by a local museum Wednesday, saying the work is too dangerous to repair. argued that it was too expensive.

City officials gave the Des Moines Art Center permission to begin demolition of the work, called “Greenwood Pond: Double Site,” as early as Monday. Removal of the pond-side facility in the heart of a beloved city park is expected to take months.

The work, completed in 1996, was considered a high point in New York artist Mary Miss’s career, but news of its possible removal sparked outrage from Miss, other artists, and arts organizations. .

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Miss expressed shock at the art center’s plan to remove her work, saying doing so would violate a 1994 contract that obligates the museum to maintain it. She reiterated her claims in a March 29 letter to the Arts Center Board of Directors that was made public.

“I would be shocked if it was just torn off,” Miss said in an interview in late February. “It doesn’t deserve that. People don’t deserve that to happen.”

This artwork can be seen from wooden decks over Greenwood Pond, along gravel paths, from metal walkways above vegetation, and from structures that allow people to view the water from eye level or above. It offers different perspectives of a small wetland.

The work has been hailed as an innovative example of land art, in which artists use natural features such as terrain, rocks, plants and water to create works.

Greenwood Pond and some of the famous land art pieces, “Greenwood Pond: Double Sight,” will be on display in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. The Des Moines Art Center announced it will begin removing artwork as early as Monday, April 8th. , because it has deteriorated beyond repair and is dangerous. (AP Photo/Scott McFetridge)

The art center, located on a hill near a pond, said it had no choice but to remove the work, saying its design and materials were vulnerable to Iowa’s extreme weather: frigid winters and warm, humid summers. Ta. Officials said much of the art would need to be replaced at a cost of $2.6 million, and future maintenance would cost millions more.

Authorities have fenced off access to some of the artworks they say are dangerous.

“Every decision we make as a facility is for the intellectual, emotional, social and physical well-being of our guests,” Arts Center Director Kelly Baum said in a statement. “Trust and creativity flourish best in a safe and welcoming environment.”

The Cultural Landscape Foundation, a Washington-based education and advocacy group, is organizing efforts to oppose the work’s removal, calling it a milestone for the land art movement. The group noted that “Greenwood Pond: Double Sight” is one of the relatively few notable land works created by a woman in a field where male artists receive far more attention.

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Removing the artwork will require bringing heavy equipment to the site, draining the pond to allow access to infrastructure, and building a new road over a period of more than three months. The cost will be paid from the arts center’s budget and no city funds will be used.

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