Late last night, the world lost Fred Meijer, chairman emeritus of Meijer Stores. At ArtPrize, we mourn the loss of this cultural visionary. Our thoughts go out to his family.
Everyone has their story of Fred Meijer. Many of them involve purple cows, penny ponies or incredible deals. But Fred’s most lasting legacy goes beyond his role as a retail innovator. His goal was to make our world a better place, and he did this by helping communities explore the relationship between art and nature.
In 2005 The Wall Street Journal wrote, “There’s nothing quite like Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park this side of the Kröller-Müller Museum and Sculpture Park in The Netherlands.” This was, and still is, a significant endorsement for an organization that is little more than 15 years old.
Fred originally saw Meijer Gardens as a place to house his growing collection of Marshall Fredericks sculptures, but he ended up establishing something much greater: one of the nation’s most significant sculpture experiences. The success of Meijer Gardens is something that other art museums and botanic gardens around the world have worked to emulate in their organizations, but few have been able to recreate the same duality between art and nature that Meijer Gardens has found.
In fewer than two decades, Meijer Gardens has helped bring countless artist voices to the United States, many for the first time, and paired their work with our ever-changing Midwest landscapes. This commitment to challenging the public with new ideas has become Fred’s lasting legacy.
Fred’s legacy is something at we all can aspire toward—creating new ideas, big ideas, ideas that can come from anyone and be experimented with anywhere.
Fred believed in the endless possibilities of our cultural landscape. We will miss him dearly.