The Mississippi River Sculpture Park is included in the wiki list of sculpture parks (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sculpture_parks) This, in itself, is no small accomplishment.
The Mississippi River Sculpture Park is in the second oldest permanent settled community in Wisconsin. Prairie du Chien is located in the Driftless Area of south western Wisconsin, a few paddle strokes north of the confluence of the Mississippi River and Wisconsin Rivers. It’s open 365 days of the year, free of charge for all. There is no playground. It is a park with no swings, jungle gym, slide, or sand box. It is a city-owned park. It is on an island surrounded by the waters of the Mississippi River. This, alone should make it unique.
St Feriole Island Western sandy shore touches the East channel of the Mississippi River. Throughout the eons of time, many people have set foot on the sands and perhaps, walked inland in search of food or protection from the elements of nature. The Mississippi River Sculpture Park is dedicated to these visitors who may have stayed for a few days, or stayed for generations.
The Mississippi River Sculpture Park has life sized bronze sculptures. Florence Bird, Sculptor, recalls: “Finding this deep ancient Mississippi valley and learning of the people who have inhabited this area and whose descendants are still calling this beautiful region home has been a great adventure.”
Today, there are five life-sized sculptures: Chief Black Hawk, Dr. William Beumont and son, Israel, a Victorian Lady, a voyager, and Emma Big Bear. Each one intricately sculpted. Again, Florence Bird: “It may not be understood that these are one-of-a-kind works of art made in the tradition of famous museum pieces and other public bronze monuments. They are each made especially for the Mississippi River Sculpture Park in Prairie du Chien, to illustrate the history and prehistory of this area. These statues are not mass produced decorative garden pieces. Each one requires its own separate production process starting with the inspiration of the artist. The whole process takes from 6 to 8 months for each statue. The techniques and tools are similar to ones used for bronze statues of all ages. Each bronze statue will last for thousands of years. “
The park will, someday be home to 22 additional sculptures. The next sculpture to be installed will be Marianne Labuche. The Park Board is hopeful that with a successful fund raising campaign, she will be dedicated within the next year.
Next time you and your family are anywhere close to Prairie du Chien, Come for a visit. The Mississippi River Sculpture Park, a jewel in the Midwest, will not be forgotten.