Speed Outdoors: Speed Art Museum in Louisville plans public access sculpture garden

The Speed Art Museum has announced plans for Speed Outdoors, a project that will transform three acres of grounds surrounding the Museum into a vibrant public green space and cultural environment. Slated to open in late 2025, the ungated, public sculpture park will create a welcoming extension of the Museum with free and open access at all hours. Speed Outdoors invites the public to engage with the Speed as a cultural and community anchor of Louisville while extending the Museum’s collection beyond its galleries.

A bequest from Reverend Al and Mary Shands of 13 large-scale sculptures by some of the world’s leading artists—including Zaha Hadid, Sol LeWitt, Kulapat Yantrasast, and Deborah Butterfield—will seed the art park’s inaugural installations. A $22 million capital campaign is underway to raise funds for construction and ongoing operations, ensuring the art park will flourish and serve the community for years to come.

The Speed Outdoors art park will create new opportunities for the Museum to display its growing collection of outdoor sculpture, collaborate with artists specializing in outdoor and land art, and present creative programming outside of the Museum’s physical walls. 

“The Speed Outdoors represents our vision for a museum shaped by dedication to inclusivity, belonging, and boundless forms of creativity,” Raphaela Platow, Director of the Speed Art Museum, said. “Paying homage to the Olmsted brothers’ dream of a Louisville connected by public parklands and emphasizing the restorative potential of accessible green space, it will serve as a welcoming forum for the whole community to connect with art, nature, and each other for generations to come.” 

Free and Open to Public

As one of few parks free and open to the public in central Louisville, the Speed Outdoors will fill a longstanding need for public green space in one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods, providing equitable access to outdoor areas for gathering, relaxation, and recreation. The three-acre park encircling the Museum will also benefit the local ecosystem through pollinator-friendly native flora, a revitalized shade canopy created by planting at least 150 native trees, and advanced water management systems, designed in partnership with arborists and native plant experts.  

The park is anticipated to serve as many as 500,000 visitors each year, including the thousands of University of Louisville students and faculty who will pass through the area each day. Developed in coordination with the University—on whose campus the Speed is located, operating independently—the Speed Outdoors marks a new chapter of collaboration between the two institutions that will reinforce the Museum’s role as an academic, cultural, and community resource.  

“This is a pivotal opportunity for the Speed to expand its impact as a cultural hub of Louisville, continuing to respond to the community’s needs and providing something truly transformative for the region,” Lopa Mehrotra, Chair of the Speed’s Board of Trustees, said. “We look forward to continued collaboration with the city, the University, our supporters, and our community partners to bring this visionary project to fruition and sustain it for generations to come.” 

With spaces for rest and play as well as year-round public programming for all ages including concerts, yoga classes, meditation, and outdoor learning activities, the Speed Outdoors celebrates the power of connecting with art and nature, bringing people together and supporting personal wellbeing alongside the shared goal of a sustainable future. The Speed’s capital campaign for the project includes funds for ongoing maintenance and programmatic support long after its opening. 

About the Speed Art Museum

Amy Sherald portrait of Breonna Taylor at Speed Art Museum
Amy Sherald portrait of Breonna Taylor at Speed Art Museum

The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY is the state’s oldest and largest art museum, and has served as a vital cultural resource for the Louisville community and the wider region for nearly 100 years. The Speed’s ever-growing encyclopedic collection, timely exhibitions, and community-driven programming explore contemporary issues and inspire meaningful personal experiences through the transformative power of art, sparking new conversations and creating opportunities for dialogue.

Located on the campus of the University of Louisville but operating as an independent nonprofit institution, the Speed provides visitors from around the world with opportunities to engage with art through public and academic programs, screenings at the Speed Cinema, family offerings in the Art Sparks interactive learning gallery, and more. Fulfilling its mission of inviting everyone to celebrate art forever, the Speed is committed to creating a welcoming and accessible space for the community, including free admission on Sundays, Community Connections artmaking programs, and the Speed For All free membership.

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