Rural Missouri Magazine

A walk in the park
Henry Lay Sculpture park, Louisiana

by Bob McEowen

Usually people think of art as the stuff of museums and galleries. But sculpture, unlike paintings, can be enjoyed outside. Few art displays will surprise visitors quite like the Henry Lay Sculpture Park, located near Louisiana.

Besides its unlikely location on a 350-acre property in northeast Missouri, the park offers plenty of surprises as visitors walk along nearly two miles of paths through meadows and woods. A menacing pack of “Wolves” appears in a clearing while “Three Sisters” (shown at right), quite rotund and clearly Asian, stand by a picturesque lake. A “Self-Made Man” fashions himself and two figures “Dance as One.”

To date, more than 20 sculptures by nationally and internationally known artists have been installed at the park, which comprises about 20 acres of a conference center operated by Saint Louis University.

A children’s area includes several whimsical sculptures and a maze. Nearby, a historic cemetery includes more artwork and the grave of Lay, the university benefactor who funded and envisioned the center and art exhibit.

The park is one stop on the 50 Miles of Art studio tour held the first weekend of November along the Hannibal to Clarksville Highway 79 corridor. Besides the tour, the park is open every Thursday through Sunday from April through December, 10 a.m. till dusk.

To visit the park, take Highway 54 west from Louisiana to Route UU. Follow UU for three miles. To learn about the 50 Miles of Art tour, call the Hannibal Arts Council at (573) 221-6545 or log on to


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