GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park near Grand Rapids unveiled its brand new Welcome Center Monday morning.
The money for the project came from the “Welcoming the World, Honoring the Legacy of Love” $115 million capital campaign.
“If I wasn’t so old, I would literally be jumping for joy because it is such a joyous moment for us,” Meijer Gardens President and CEO David Hooker said.
The 69,000-square-foot addition features two levels, pavilions, plazas, theaters, gift shops, various gardens and an expanded Peter M. Wege Library, as well as indoor eating areas.
Hooker said the old welcome and ticketing area was designed to accommodate about 200,000 to 250,000 people a year, but the Garden’s peak year saw 780,000 people visit.
“We believe we’ve created a profound place of beauty; a place where people can come, they can enjoy world class art, they can enjoy beautiful gardens and there’s a healing part of that,” Hooker said.
Monday’s reveal of the new center was a soft opening. Work continues on parts of the facility and it is expected to be completed by the fall of 2021.
“He (Fred Meijer) would say things like, ‘All this stuff is really great and I’m so pleased I can donate to have this stuff, but it’s the human connections that are more important,'” Hooker said. “And this place promotes that.”
The facility is open with coronavirus mitigation protocols like physical distancing measures in place.