The Western Washington University Outdoor Sculpture Collection Walk

On a personal note…

This is my first post in quite a while. In late March, I fractured the 5th metatarsal on my left foot, resulting in a complete cessation of any walking. Four months later, I’m up to about an hour of walking every couple days and lots of yoga. That is all my physical therapist will allow. We’re looking at six months to full recovery and that’s only if I’m ‘good’ and follow his advice. It’s been a real learning experience. I’ve learned about patience, how to care for oneself, how it feels to be disabled, how society views, cares for, and accommodates the disabled, and the precious gift of health. May I never take it for granted…

Western Washington University…

WWU, Garden Street entrance

Western Washington University began in the 1890’s as a “State Normal School,” eventually becoming a college devoted to education majors. Since then, it has become a larger learning center with degrees offered in many majors.
This was a perfect day to stroll through the hillside campus of WWU in Bellingham, Washington. It had rained in the morning leaving the air fresh and the earth well-watered. The temperature was cool but not too cool. The campus looks out over Bellingham Bay and the distant San Juan Islands. The grounds in summer are spectacular. Century old trees, fragrant rose gardens, and native plants are cared for in a manner that support the ideals of education: imagination, vision, beauty, balance, and purpose. The natural world that has been artfully created on WWU’s campus, invites the visitor and student to stand up straighter and lift their gaze to a higher potential and goal. So, in addition to the sculpture garden, there are the nature gardens too…an added treat.

The first building on the campus was the 3-story, 36-room, “Old Main.”
Rose Garden to the side of Old Main.
Edens Hall

The Sculpture Garden…

The sculpture garden is overseen by the Western Gallery. There are 27 sculptures on the sculpture garden map. It seems you can pick up a handy booklet about the sculptures in the Western Gallery but I used only the map and it was fine. I want to take this walk with Aaron soon so we will pick up a booklet then. Honestly, it was enjoyable just contemplating the artist’s meaning of the sculptures rather than reading the meaning. When I have the booklet, I’ll be able to see how close I came to understanding the artists’ messages.
The map uses letters of the alphabet (A to Z to AA) as a key to the location of the sculptures. For the most part, it was accurate. I expected the sculptures to be in plain sight and and most of them are. Some are more difficult to find as they are on walls, in buildings, or off the main trails, which added to the ‘discovery’ aspect of the walk. There were two that were missing (I could see where they had been) and one that I searched and searched for but never found. It was disappointing too, as it has the most interesting title, “The Islands of the Rose Apple Tree Surrounded by the Oceans of the World For You, Oh My Darling.” Who wouldn’t want to see that sculpture, right?!
Parking can be tricky at WWU. I was lucky to get a parking spot on Garden Street just below the campus. One could easily take one of the numerous public buses that go up to WWU from downtown too. After parking, I walked up (and I mean up) to Red Square, the heart of the campus, where exhibit A was waiting. I followed the ‘alphabet’ on the map, making it a scavenger hunt of sorts.

“Sky Viewing” by Isamu Noguchi ~ The first sculpture on the map, under construction.
“Scepter” by Steve Tibbetts, 1966. I am amazed at the age of some of the sculptures. This is in Red Square about 30 feet from the previous one. It has stood there for many years, quietly observing campus life. I had to wonder if anyone takes much notice of it. It was one of my favorites.
“Scepter” from another angle.
Here are the previous two sculptures from across Red Square. You can just make out “Scepter” to the left of “Sky Viewing”
“Wall Relief” by Norman Warsinske. This was difficult to find because I hadn’t expected a sculpture to be on a wall. There were supposed to be two of them, one on each end of the Humanities building, but…
…all I could find was where it’s pair had been.

Some of the sculptures are favorites of the students and visitors for obvious reasons…this would make a great walk for little people, as many of the sculptures are interactive, as you’ll see.

“The Man Who Used to Hunt Cougars for Bounty” by Richard Beyer
“Bayview Station” by George Trakas. This was made from railroad track and wood, hence the name, Bayview Station. It also looked out over the bay, making a great hang out spot.
“Bayview Station,” WWU Outdoor Sculpture Garden
“Wright’s Triangle” by Richard Serra. This makes for an awesome hide and seek type game!

“Log Ramps” by Lloyd Hamrol. I think this is the same family that was climbing on one of the previous sculptures.
“Stadium Piece” by Bruce Nauman. This one just makes you want to run to it. Kids were on it and under it…
“Stadium Piece”

We’ve seen this next one for many years but have never gone up to it and inside it. It has a quality like no other. It is titled, “Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings” by Nancy Holt. I felt an inner quiet immediately come over me like never before.

“Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings” by Nancy Holt. The setting is breath-taking.
“Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings”
Looking all the way through to the green beyond…
Contrast between styles…

The map takes you all the way to Fairhaven College. This is not to be missed. The campus is designed in such a way that you feel you are at a mountain retreat. It would be great place to have a picnic lunch…
After Fairhaven College, you walk over to the state-of-the-art Wade King Student Recreation Center. Wade King lost his life as a youngster in the catastrophic Whatcom Falls Park fire. His family has given countless dollars, in his name, to promote the education of youth in Whatcom County. I was struck by the symmetry of the flags leading to the Center and the next sculpture, a water sculpture, dedicated to all those who served in WW II.

Wide open walkway leading to the Wade King Student Recreation Center, WWU

Here is a  video of the water sculpture, “Rain Forest,” by James Fitzgerald at Wade King Student Recreation Center, WWU.

and another…

Here are a couple more of interest. One is inside the library. One is below a sky bridge of sorts, which given the layout of the sculpture was the best place to view it.

“Minds Eye” by Mark Di Suvero is inside the library. You can see it through the window as you approach.
“Untitled” by Meg Webster as seen from above.
These playful turtle-like characters, found in Haskell Plaza, are titled “Feats of Strength” by Tom Otterness.
Pretty cute…

As you can see, this is a wonderful walk. The pictures in this post are just a handful of the entire collection. The campus is built on the side of a hill so the walker can get their muscles working. The sculptures are varied and artistically and thoughtfully created and placed. They are truly beautiful and inspiring. I ended up buying lunch from one of the vendors outside the student union and ate at a picnic table on the plaza outside the Performing Arts Center with it’s fabulous view of the bay. The book store is worth a look too. I was on campus for about 3 hours total. This is a wonderful walk for visitors and locals alike!

Happy Walking!
Yours Truly,


My lunch spot, with Bellingham Bay below, on the plaza outside The Performing Arts Center at Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington





7 thoughts on “The Western Washington University Outdoor Sculpture Collection Walk

  1. C Sachs July 21, 2017 / 3:02 pm

    Thank you Ann!!



    • bellinghamwalks July 21, 2017 / 5:36 pm

      Maybe you can do some or all of this walk when you visit next month!


  2. Julie Selleck July 21, 2017 / 5:29 pm

    I’m so glad you’re out and about more. ☺️ I have missed your writing. What a beautiful place and sculptures. As usual thank you so much for sharing.  See you soon!⭕️❌

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone


    • bellinghamwalks July 21, 2017 / 5:37 pm

      I’m looking forward to seeing everyone too! Lots of love,


  3. onemassageatatime July 22, 2017 / 5:46 am

    It’s nice to see a post on a walk, Ann! I am so sorry this has been such a long haul for you, but glad that you are slowly coming out of it and getting back out there. What a change from the past two summers, yes?

    Keep on taking care of yourself! Good luck with the summer of continued healing. Let me know when you want to come back for another round of massage. 🙂

    Kathie >


  4. artmaker85 July 23, 2017 / 11:39 am

    Incredible sculptures and art. Interesting campus and beautiful gardens. No wonder you chose this walk after a long recoup. See you and Aaron in August! Love, Lynne


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