Central Library Grows Wild!

Many have seen the breathtaking architecture and ornamentation that lies inside Central Library, but have you seen nature’s beautiful architecture just beyond its stone walls?

Inspired by butterflies

In April 2017, Gateway Foundation gifted and installed a striking sculpture, Mariposas by artist Manolo Valdez. The enormous and breathtaking public artwork was installed on April 11 in three separate pieces using a crane to lift it over the east terrace wall of Central Library. The steel butterflies that sit atop the sculpture glitter in the sun and look as though they are really flapping their wings. 

While the sculpture was beautiful, the bare landscape of the city street was a stark contrast. When Chief Operating Officer of the St. Louis Public Library, Justin Struttmann, noticed the disconnect between the stunning art and the bare landscape, he enlisted the help of his wife, Nicole Miller-Struttmann, a Webster University professor who specializes in plant pollinator interaction.

In September 2018, the garden was installed providing a new playground for pollinators downtown. Today, real butterflies flap their wings in the pollinator garden below their steel counterparts thanks to the generous support of Harvey Harris and the Pride of St. Louis Redevelopment Charitable Fund.

A helping hand from Harvey

Harris became involved with the St. Louis Public Library Foundation via his wife, Judy Harris, a member of the SLPL Foundation Board of Trustees. Harris, a local attorney for 55 years and the last remaining trustee of the Pride of St. Louis Redevelopment Charitable Fund, was excited about the project and the potential to have an impact on downtown St. Louis. “The Garden is educational, aesthetically beautiful, and anyone can walk around and enjoy it,” says Harris who has had a passion for the Central Library since he was a child. “As a boy, I used the downtown Library because it had the most materials. I had a great affection for it. I loved the Great Hall.” He, of course, jumped at the chance to add to the beauty of the building he loved by donating the remaining Pride of St. Louis Redevelopment Charitable Corporation resources for the construction and maintenance of the garden. 

His wife, Judy Harris, served on the SLPL Foundation Board of Trustees during the restoration and modernization of Central Library. Serving as a trustee for twelve years, she helped found the Tennessee Williams Society Committee, to grow the leadership donor group and build long-term support for the Library.  She too has a passion for SLPL and believes it is a cornerstone institution of our community. “The Library is a major part of our community. It just has to be,” Judy Harris states. With the installation of the pollinator garden, she hoped to draw more people to Central Library and introduce them to the wonders available inside and outside the Library. “I think it brings people to the Library. Some for both books and the garden. Or sometimes just the garden.”

To learn more about Central Library’s pollinator garden and the science and art behind it, check out the Library’s podcast and hear from the people that made this great idea a reality.

Volunteer at your local Library pollinator garden!

If you are looking to get your hands dirty, we could use your help!  SLPL is currently looking for volunteers for the butterfly gardens installed at the Carpenter, Divoll, Carondelet, Walnut Park and Kingshighway Library locations. To become a volunteer, visit our volunteer page.

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