White River State Park is home to some of Indianapolis’ most iconic museums and attractions, including the Indianapolis Zoo, Indiana State Museum and the Eiteljorg. But did you know that the park is also a great place to see public art?
Where to Park at White River State Park
First things first: parking. You have two options for parking at White River State Park: surface parking and underground parking. If you’re visiting to see the public art, you’ll want to use the surface parking, which is located near the White River State Park Visitors Center, just off of Washington Street. Both parking options require payment.
Where to See Public Art at White River State Park
White River State Park is large — 250 acres large, to be exact. That means, in order to see the public art, you’re going to have to do some walking!
As you make your way from the surface parking toward the park, one of the first sculptures you’ll probably see is called The Tent. At 43 feet tall, this bright and colorful sculpture is made from reflective panels that sway in the breeze. An homage to Indy’s racing history, The Tent was created by internationally recognized artist Donald Lipski for the 500 Festival for the 50th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500.
In an open area, near the Growing Places Indy garden, stand several rectangular, striped sculptures. This group of sculptures, titled Prime Commonality, was created by two Indy artists, and is meant to be a visual representation of the ancestral link between chimpanzees and humans — the striped sculptures standing for the similar chromosomal banding patterns between the two species.
As you make your way down the Washington Pedestrian Bridge, you’ll see a lot more big sculptures. Some of the ones that stand out are a big, red sculpture titled Don’t Forget Us; a yellow sculpture that looks like a man about to take flight called Finish; and at the end of the bridge, a coiled barbed wire bison standing near the back entrance of the Zoo.
On the Washington Pedestrian Bridge is also an NDY sculpture. Stand to the left of it, and you become the “I” in Indy, completing the art piece. This is a great place to pull out your phone to take a photo, as the beautiful backdrop is the Indy skyline behind you.
Walk the River Promenade
If you’re feeling up for some more walking, take a left at the Bison sculpture. There, you’ll find the White River Promenade, a half-mile trail that winds its way along the White River in back of the Indianapolis Zoo. Along this trail, you’ll see some of the best views of the downtown skyline, and you might even see a beaver making a dam!
Art Along the Canal
Head back toward the museums to get to the canal, where you’ll see even more artwork all along the way. The canal is a great place to ride a gondola during the warm months, but it’s also a great place to spot art in many forms any time of the year. Look on the walls of the bridges, and you’ll spot artwork representing the 92 counties of the state of Indiana. You’ll even see sculptures inside the water of the canal itself. One of the pieces you can expect to see is titled Spin, one of the three pieces in a series along the canal. This sculpture is a metaphorical piece that is meant to show how humans might interact with the environment.
There is so much to do and explore at White River State Park! Going on a self-guided art walk around the park is one great way to take advantage of this wonderful Indy area.