Louisville, Kentucky’s Speed Art Museum displays works by Claude Monet, Paul Klee, and Kiki Smith throughout its galleries. The Beaux Arts–style museum and its modern expansion by architect Kulapat Yantrasast, the founder of wHY architecture, in 2016 is a mainstay of the Kentucky art scene, centrally located next to the University of Louisville campus. Today, the nearly 100-year-old art institution is readying for another expansion project. In 2025, the Speed Art Museum plans to open Speed Outdoors, a three-acre public sculpture park situated on its grounds.
The forthcoming park slash sculpture garden, designed by Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture, follows recent acquisitions by the museum to grow its collection of outdoor sculptures. Working alongside Reed Hilderbrand on the design is PLC Management, BOSSE Construction, and K Norman Berry Associates Architects.
The city of Louisville historically has had scarce access to public greenspace, despite plans from Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. and his sons to spearhead a park system for the city at the turn of the 20th century. The addition of Speed Outdoors will not only add to the art and culture scene of Kentucky’s largest city, home to the Kentucky Derby and legendary Louisville Slugger, but also a place for respite and recreation, where the public can gather for concerts, fitness activities, and other classes and programming. To support the local ecosystem there are plans to plant 150 native trees and bee-friendly vegetation around the garden.
“The Speed Outdoors represents our vision for a museum shaped by dedication to inclusivity, belonging, and boundless forms of creativity,” said Raphaela Platow, director of the Speed Art Museum in a press release. “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.”
A lacquered cast aluminum bench by Zaha Hadid, Mark Handforth’s massive Silver Wishbone, a monolithic concrete installation from Sol LeWitt, and two chairs made of rocks and steel rods designed by Kulapat Yantrasast are among the inaugural pieces that will be sited within the new Speed Outdoors. Renderings from Reed Hilderbrand of the proposed design show meandering pathways surrounded by swaths of native plantings and grassy patches.
Speed Outdoors is a collaboration between the Speed Art Museum and the University of Louisville. A $22 million capital campaign seeks to raise money for the park’s construction and its continued operations.
When it opens in 2025, it is anticipated to welcome 500,000 annual visitors.