The Arboretum at Penn State hosts first outdoor exhibit ‘Sculptures in Steel’

“Sculptures in Steel” opens Saturday at The Arboretum at Penn State and is on display until Oct. 23.
“Sculptures in Steel” opens Saturday at The Arboretum at Penn State and is on display until Oct. 23. Photo provided

“Sculptures in Steel,” an outdoor exhibit of inflated metal works of art made by artist Robert Anderson, will debut on Saturday.

This seasonal, outdoor exhibit will be the first ever by The Arboretum at Penn State and is intended to promote the arts in an environment that is affected by the changing of the seasons.

The exhibit will remain open at the arboretum until Oct. 23.

Shari Edelson, director of horticulture and curator for the arboretum, hopes this time frame will give visitors a window to not only observe the individual works, but also to appreciate how they complement the environment as it changes from late spring to early fall.

“We really saw this as an opportunity to build a bridge to the visual arts and to enhance our role as a home for the arts,” Edelson said.

Edelson said the arboretum has always sought to have a larger role as a center for all disciplines and horticulture within Penn State. The School of Theatre has hosted several events in its grounds, which have also been used by biology and social sciences researchers.

Anderson has experience working with the arboretum. He was also the creator of the garden kaleidoscope located in the children’s garden, which opened in 2015.

Tours of the arboretum will start at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Volunteers at the arboretum will also host several activities for children at the Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden.

For his exhibition, Anderson hopes that people will take a few minutes away from their phones and simply absorb the ecosystem that his pieces will inhabit.

Originally, Anderson had intended for these sculptures to be on display at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wis. However, when Edelson visited the botanical gardens in 2013, she decided to inquire with Anderson about borrowing a few of his works for a season to be showcased at Penn State.

Anderson’s pieces combine his style with the Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures, or origami. The Seattle native began his career in art in 1994, after having worked several years as a maintenance engineer. And although a significant number of his works are found in the Great Lakes area, he has worked throughout the country from California to Florida and Vermont.


  • What: “Sculptures in Steel”
  • When: public opening 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, exhibit open through Oct. 23
  • Where: H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens, The Arboretum at Penn State
  • Info: arboretum.psu.edu/event/opening-of-sculptures-in-steel-exhibition-2/