Honoring a Legacy of Love

Honoring a Legacy of Love

The case for new space.

"People deserve a place that inspires them, challenges them and offers opportunities to consider the beauty and mysteries of the human experience." -Fred Meijer

An ever-changing, exceptional experience.

Since its opening in 1995, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has evolved into a major cultural attraction focusing on horticulture, sculpture, the natural environment and the arts. The original vision has grown into one of the top cultural destinations in the United States, known internationally for the quality of gardens & art.

Our growth in visitors has been nothing short of phenomenal. Matching that has been the growth of our art collection, our dedicated garden spaces and our educational offerings.

Since the beginning, our focus has been on delivering an exceptional experience for every member, guest, artist, gardener, student and volunteer who visits Meijer Gardens. The Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love capital campaign will enable us to continue keeping this promise.

Through the generosity of The Meijer Foundation, our Board of Directors participated in a master planning process to address facility needs in response to our significant growth. Outside professional assistance from Progressive AE and Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. has helped complete our process. Specific criteria were developed to guide the expansion of our facilities. Those criteria include:

  • Furthering our mission, which states: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park promotes the enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of gardens, sculpture, the natural environment and the arts.
  • Continuing to honor Fred & Lena Meijer and all our generous donors.
  • Creating spaces that allow people to move about safely and easily and inspire them to engage with our mission.
  • Planning for annual guest attendance of 1.2 million to 1.5 million.
  • Creating additional space that is LEED certified and architecturally significant.
  • Conducting and completing a worldwide search for an architectural partner with national and international experience creating cultural institutions.
  • Adding parking capacity and significantly improving accessible parking and vehicle movement.

Read more about the project in the Campaign Booklet available here.

Video Updates

The next phases of our Welcoming the World: Honoring A Legacy of Love expansion project include an expanded and reimagined Volunteer Tribute Garden and Tassell-Wisner-Bottrall English Perennial and Bulb Garden. Meijer Gardens President & CEO David Hooker explains this next phase in our expansion.


We are thrilled to open the doors of our new Welcome Center! The 69,000 square-foot building greatly enhances the arrival, admission and orientation experience for all of our visitors and we are excited to share it with you.
The Daniel and Pamela DeVos Ticketing Center is 2,200 square feet, compared to our current ticketing space of 945 square feet. Meijer Gardens President & CEO David Hooker offers a look at this new space.
An update of the progress made through August, 2020 of the new Welcome Center.
An update of the progress made through June, 2020 of the new Welcome Center.
The new 69,000-square-foot, LEED-certified Welcome Center will be a major architectural feature for our campus. Here is a look at the progress as of November, 2019.
The Stuart and Barbara Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden opened to visitors in May, 2019.
Welcome Center Update, April 2019.
October, 2018 Expansion Update: Covenant Learning Center Grand Opening
June, 2018 Expansion Update: Peter C. & Emajean Cook Transportation Center
April, 2018 Expansion Update: Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater
February, 2018 Expansion Update: Covenant Learning Center
An update on the expansion project as of January, 2018.

The case for more space

Simply put, we didn't anticipate growth of this magnitude so quickly. At the same time, it provides an amazing opportunity for Meijer Gardens to build on our success-to bring joy to more visitors, to welcome new audiences, to educate more people, to create unique exhibitions and to offer new and distinct visual experiences year-round.

With more space, we can enhance the experiences of our members and guests. We can ease ticket lines, host more events, and give guests more room to move about during our popular exhibitions. We also have updated and expanded our storage areas so we can continue the safekeeping of our valuable works of art, and maintain our archives containing important historical documents. Changes in these areas are critical to helping us preserve and promote our mission.

What will be built

New Welcome Center
The new 69,000-square-foot, designed-to-be LEED-certified Welcome Center is a major architectural feature for our campus. The driving force behind it is our dramatic increase in attendance—more than 750,000 people now move through a space that was originally designed around an annual attendance of just over 200,000. The new Welcome Center greatly enhances the arrival, admission and orientation experience for our guests. 

New Covenant Learning Center
The new Covenant Learning Center engages learners in new ways and reinforce our commitment as the go-to place for cultural education. At 20,000 square feet, the new center enhances the quality and variety of our programming. The space promotes interactive learning, fosters creative thinking, integrates technology and supports a wide range of educational offerings.

New Cook Transportation Center
With a main campus that has grown to 158-acres, tram tours have become a popular feature of the Meijer Gardens guest experience. In addition to these guided tours, trams support special events, such as weddings and other events. The new Cook Transportation Center offers more covered space and accessibility for waiting guests, provides a convenient restroom stop and offices for staff and volunteers.

Expanded and Upgraded Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater
West Michigan’s premiere outdoor venue for local and legendary musicians alike, the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater provides an intimate setting where artists can connect with fans on a uniquely personal level. While maintaining this intimacy, the amphitheater expansion provides an increase in sponsor seating, a new support building that adds capacity for more food and beverages, and restrooms outside of the entry gates for people waiting in line to enter the venue.

New Entry Plaza
The new plaza architecturally and functionally ties together the entrances to the Welcome Center and the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater. These are the only two places that guests enter Meijer Gardens. The conveniently located new plaza brings more parking spaces closer to guest entry points. In addition, the plaza is an outdoor gathering place that strongly represents our dual mission of horticulture and sculpture.

Expanded and Renovated Existing Building
Our significant growth in attendance has also necessitated an expansion of the BISSELL Corridor, which will be widened to accommodate increased guest traffic. This will provide a larger footprint for annual exhibitions, as well as greater access to the sculpture galleries. This expansion will also connect the new Welcome Center on two levels, creating a seamless integration that will enhance the guest experience, from both a visual and accessibility perspective.

New Meijer-Shedleski Picnic Pavilion
Outdoor picnicking will now be given the proper space and beauty most befitting this favorite guest tradition. The new picnic pavilion dramatically expands the number of guests who can participate, with restrooms and parking conveniently located close by. The architectural and natural beauty of this area will strongly support our mission.

Expanded and Accessible Parking and Urban Gardens
This new expansion and redesign will double the number of parking spaces located within a one- to two-minute walk from our new Welcome Center entrance. The new configuration will offer additional accessible parking spaces near the entrance, increase the number of parking spaces overall, and add new urban and rain gardens to control water runoff— honoring our commitment to be good stewards of our environment.

Gardens & Sculpture Changes and Additions
The dramatic changes in the Meijer Gardens footprint will make it necessary to move or recreate existing gardens—such as the Tassell-Wisner-Bottrall English Perennial Garden and Volunteer Tribute Garden—to new spaces. Existing and newly acquired sculptures will be artfully sited in these new spaces in accordance with our unique mission. Together, these exciting changes will create a new aesthetic for our guests—and fulfill our promise to be Always New.

New Endowment Fund
The Endowment supports the financial health of Meijer Gardens, making sure this cultural institution brings joy to as many guests as possible—for as long as possible. The expansion of our facilities will require additional endowment funds to provide adequate support and the continuing viability and sustainability of the institution. This is an important part of honoring Fred & Lena’s enduring legacy.

The architects

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien are internationally renowned for their masterful designs. They are the visionaries behind the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University and the iconic Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. The Barnes Foundation contains the most significant collection of Impressionist and early modern art in the world, including works by Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent van Gogh. It is interesting to note that the Barnes Foundation  is a product of Dr. Albert Barnes’ love of art and  Mrs. Laura Barnes’ love of horticulture. Most recently, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects was selected from a prestigious group of seven finalists to design the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.

Unforgettable spaces like these come to be only through uncompromising collaboration between the architects and the institutions, and ours is no exception. The spirit of shared respect and fluid partnership will continue to energize every step of our journey.

Guided by Tod and Billie, the design team will ensure that the new Meijer Gardens campus is an expression of our mission in both form & function. 

Support our Goal


Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love is Meijer Gardens’ promise to preserve and honor the legacies of those who have supported us during the past, and also to those joining us on this exciting new journey.

Gifts of all sizes are needed to help us support our goal. If you are interested in reviewing a list of major naming opportunities, you may view it here. We will be accepting gifts for this campaign until 12/31/2020.


Fred & Lena Meijer have always loved gardens and sculpture. Since 1995, they have shared their love of thought-provoking and beautiful art and green spaces with more than twelve million visitors through Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

This legacy continues to resonate not only within the community of West Michigan, but also as an iconic cultural institution regionally, nationally and internationally. The institution’s growth is a testament to something distinctly human—the need for beauty, to connect with nature and the arts, and to gather as a community.

We strongly believe our growth will continue, and this great institution will thrive for decades and generations to come. At its very essence, Meijer Gardens is a place of joy—and a legacy of love shared by Fred & Lena, the Meijer family, and thousands of employees, volunteers and donors who have created a special corner of the world. One that is Always Growing. Always Beautiful. Always New.

For more information or to make a donation, please call 616-975-3177 or contact Anne Benson at abenson@meijergardens.org