Gardens Meet Kaleidoscopes at the MN Landscape Arboretum

Get a dramatic new perspective on plants and flowers this summer at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s exhibit “Robert Anderson’s Gardens of Kaleidoscopes.” The kaleidoscopes are displayed in 15 installations inside and outside the arboretum’s Dahlberg and Morgan terraces, and the Oswald Visitor Center.

Anderson, the creator of the kaleidoscopic sculptures, is a metal artist who resides in Door County, Wisconsin. His wife Ann’s collection of kaleidoscopes served as his inspiration for the new exhibit. “I started looking at her [kaleidoscopes] and they were all made as little hand-held things for indoors, and I wanted to make something for outside,” Anderson says.  

Anderson’s kaleidoscopes are on display in different gardens around the country and at the Minnesota State Fair, which led the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to hire him to create kaleidoscopes to pair with its floral arrangements. After Anderson viewed the spaces at the arboretum in September 2016, he began constructing the sculptures that took him most of the winter to complete.

The sculptures are composed of steel, which is cut, formed and welded into the proper shapes. The kaleidoscopes themselves are made of three mirrors and a lens that create a periscope, which allows any object viewed through the scope to become a kaleidoscopic image. The prism designs are initiated by turning the garden containers in the middle of the sculpture, which contain plants and flowers arranged by the arboretum staff. The arrangements will be changed every month to provide new sources of color and design.

Anderson hopes the exhibit will give visitors the chance to relax and interact with each other, to share the connection that art provides. It creates a place where everyone can find some joy since kaleidoscopes not only amaze and capture the attention of children, but they create nostalgia for older individuals who remember playing with them when they were young. “People of all ages like them, and each generation takes away something different from them,” Anderson says.

See “Robert Anderson’s Gardens of Kaleidoscopes” through September 25, Monday-Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. @ Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska. Free with gate admission



by Catherine Guden


Personal Designer

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