Hartwood Acres Sculpture Garden officially opens after years of work on the project
An official ribbon cutting was held on Sunday afternoon to officially open the Hartwood Acres Sculpture Garden.
The Allegheny County project, which spanned years, involved renovating and moving sculptures around the landscape to provide a centralized experience for park visitors.
There were 12 sculptures acquired in the mid-1980s that were sandblasted, repainted and rewelded. New accessible trails, walls and a renovated landscape have been installed around the 629-acre property.
Caren Glotfelty, executive director of the Allegheny County Parks Foundation, said the sculptures look as new as they did 40 years ago. The foundation decided to raise funds for the renovations because the paint was peeling off many of the sculptures.
“We thought it might be a destination attraction in the park,” she said.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald was thrilled to see the garden officially open after three to four years of work on the project.
“It enhances the beauty and what the park has to offer for years to come,” he said.
About 70 people were present to attend the inauguration. Fitzgerald delivered a keynote address while introducing other speakers including Briggs; Chester Babst, Chairman of the Allegheny County Parks Foundation; and Dusty Kirk, Chair of the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) Board of Directors.
Kirk said the opening of the garden comes after a period of time when covid made clear the importance of showcasing parks and encouraging people to spend time outdoors. RAD donated $1 million to the estimated $3.9 million project.
“We have a lot of concerts here, the symphony played here, and now we have this spectacular garden,” she said.
A new piece commissioned by Wilkinsburg artist Dee Briggs was included in the collection in June 2021 during the project’s groundbreaking ceremony. Briggs has worked all over the world, but her work at Hartwood Acres Park is her first publicly commissioned project in the Pittsburgh area.
“Knowing that this piece is so close to home has been a thrill and an honor,” Briggs said.
The sculpture garden received high praise from participants who hiked the new trails.
Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said the sculpture garden would give people something to see on their walks.
“Maybe it will inspire someone else to do some sculpture work to place here in the park,” he said.
McCandless resident Mike Tomera said the garden helps showcase the beauty of the park. Previously, people might have driven by without even realizing what the park had to offer, he said.
“Their renovation was overdue. Now, with them in natural conditions, it will showcase more and adapt more to nature,” Tomera said.
Art-loving North Side resident Traci Weatherford-Brown said the centralized location helps people explore artwork rather than walking around to find pieces scattered in different places.
“It really helps put Pittsburgh on the map for contemporary sculpture and parks,” she said.