Step Back in Time
Earl & Donnalee Holton Victorian Garden ParloR
In the Victorian Era, greenhouses provided space for people to gather and appreciate the botanical uniqueness being discovered around the world. The Earl & Donnalee Holton Victorian Garden Parlor at Meijer Gardens pays homage to this concept of displaying foreign plant collections under glass. Water fountains, ornate planters, stained glass features, and several sculptures—including pieces by Edgar Degas and Auguste Rodin—set the tone for the diversity of lush horticulture found within this space.
Victorian Garden Parlor
The Wardian Case
The Wardian Case demonstrates how delicate plants were first kept alive and protected on long voyages. In 1827, Nathaniel Ward accidentally invented terrariums while studying caterpillars and moths by placing them in jars. He noticed plants flourished in these sealed jars and discovered they better survived harsh conditions when enclosed in sealed containers. Ward’s discovery led to horticulturists being able to transport items around the globe. These early “fern cases” paved the way for modern terrariums, greenhouses, and conservatories.
Dancer Looking at the Sole of Her Right Foot
Edgar Degas, a key figure of French Impressionism, often focused on images of the ballet. In paintings, pastels, and sculptures, the artist focused on the movements and physical presence of young dancers. During his lifetime, Degas’ sculptures were less widely known than his paintings and pastels. Sculptures such as Dancer Looking at the Sole of Her Right Foot, originally conceived in wax, preserve the textures and the suggested impression of a figure as it moves through space and time.
Edgar Degas. Dancer Looking at the Sole of Her Right Foot, circa 1895–1911. Bronze, 18.5 x 10.5 x 8 inches. Gift of Fred and Lena Meijer.
The Aristilochia Vine
With its perpetual blooms, the Aristilochia Vine is a visitor favorite that richly drapes the pergola near the Victorian Garden Parlor entrance.
Auguste Rodin, universally considered the “Father of Modern Sculpture,” created numerous iconic works. The Kiss, along with The Thinker, is his most celebrated work. Both subjects were originally conceived in connection with the artist’s massive bronze doors, The Gates of Hell, but eventually realized as independent works of art. Here, two young lovers come together in a forbidden embrace. The roughly textured surfaces and emotionally suggestive forms were new—even controversial—at the time they were initially presented by the master.
Auguste Rodin. The Kiss, conceived 1880 (cast before 1914). Bronze, 23.75 x 14.5 x 15.5 inches. Gift of Fred and Lena Meijer.