Land Art Fight: Court Blocks Demolition of Iconic Outdoor Artwork


A federal judge in Des Moines has intervened to safeguard a nationally acclaimed open-air artwork, “Greenwood Pond: Double Site,” after deeming it likely that its demolition would breach a contract with its creator, renowned land artist Mary Miss.

Saving Miss’ Masterpiece

This innovative installation, dating back to 1996, has been a cornerstone of Miss’ artistic legacy. However, the Des Moines Art Center has been adamant about removing the aging artwork due to its diminished condition, estimating repair costs of approximately .6 million.

  1. Perspectives on the Pond: The artwork offers a unique interplay with its environment, featuring wooden decks over the pond and walkways that provide immersive perspectives of the water and wetlands.
  2. Artist’s Perspective: Miss has fiercely opposed the planned removal, arguing that the art center has failed to adequately communicate updates regarding the piece and violated their agreement, which mandates its maintenance and prohibits removal without her consent.
  3. Legal Intervention: A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order, halting the art center’s demolition plans. The judge’s decision underscores Miss’ strong likelihood of prevailing in her argument that demolition would constitute a breach of contract.

A Work of National Importance

The installation is highly esteemed in the art world, prompting widespread outrage and support from fellow artists and organizations. They contend that the demolition would be an irreparable loss rather than an investment in preservation.

Statement from the Artist

“I am immensely grateful for the judge’s decision,” Miss stated in a statement. “Not only has it shielded Greenwood Pond: Double Site but also reaffirmed the rights and legacies of all artists.” She extended an invitation for a “mutually satisfying” solution.

Art Center’s Response

The Des Moines Art Center, while abiding by the court order, maintains its stance on public safety concerns as its foremost priority. Fenced barriers have been erected around the compromised sections of the artwork.

Legal Proceedings Continue

The judge scheduled a future hearing to consider Miss’ request for a preliminary injunction, which would further delay the demolition plans as the contract dispute proceeds through the legal system.