One of our “out of the French Quarter” adventures during our trip to New Orleans was to City Park. City Park is a huge 1,300-acre park located just north of the city center. It is the 87th largest park in the United States and is approximately 50 percent larger than Central Park in New York City.
Our primary reason for visiting City Park was to see The Singing Oak. Our Lyft driver dropped us off on the edge of the park and asked us if there was somewhere specific in the park we would like to be dropped off, say the museum or sculpture garden. I told him that we were going to see The Singing Oak and he had no clue as to what I was talking about. I told him to Google it as we hopped out of the car.
The Singing Oak
The Singing Oak is a big ol’ oak tree filled with chimes.
When the wind blows, the chimes ring and the Oak sings. The tree is plain sight but unless you walk almost directly beneath it, you would not know that it sings. The chimes are painted black to blend in with the shadows and surroundings. One chime is 14 ft long!
The chimes are tuned to ring in the pentatonic scale and the sound they produce is peaceful.
Note: The wind is your friend and your foe when recording The Singing Oak. The wind is needed to make the chimes ring but the wind also interferes with the sound recording. I had to stand unusually close to the tree trunk so that I could be used as a wind block when I recorded the chimes in the video below.
The Sculpture Garden
We stumbled upon the Sculpture Garden by accident whilst in search of a public toilet. I’d asked a gardener working on greenery near The Singing Oak if there were public restrooms in the park and he directed us to the Museum of Art. The security guard at the Museum of Art then directed us to the Sculpture Garden.
The Sculpture Garden is free to enter and was a pleasant surprise. My favorite piece was the giant safety pin created by husband-and-wife sculptures Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen in 1999. The very first thought that came to mind when I saw this sculpture was that pop art style reminded me of the “cherry on the spoon” sculpture in the Minneapolis Sculpture Gardens and I wondered if the same duo created that sculpture… and they did!
Protip: The Sculpture Garden is currently undergoing an expansion so not all sculptures may be accessible during your visit but it’s still worth a visit, in my opinion.
Though having lived most of my life in Minneapolis and driven past the cherry on the spoon thousands of times, I’ve never seen it close-up. It has been on my bucket list to see the cherry on the spoon – known officially as Spoonbridge and Cherry – since moving back the United States but it seems to always slip through the cracks when I’m back in Minnesota visiting family and friends.
There were a lot of interesting pieces in the garden and below are the ones I found most eye-catching.