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Sculpture Garden Enhances Sonoma County Museum

Take a relaxing stroll through sunlight and shade in the fenced sculpture garden next to the Museums of Sonoma County in downtown Santa Rosa. Here, natural, industrial, and just plain whimsical art "grows" in delightful profusion.

Created by landscape architect and museum board member Frederic Warnecke, the garden subtly echoes elements of the Sonoma County landscape — grass, bushes, rolling hills, towering redwoods — as a setting for about a dozen large-scale pieces by California artists.

The sculpture garden lies to the west of what was previously called the Sonoma County Museum when it housed both history and art exhibits in a single building. It now has two identities on one campus — the History Museum of Sonoma County in the historic post office building (425 7th St., Santa Rosa, 707-579-1500), and the Art Museum of Sonoma County in a renovated warehouse immediately to the east of the history museum (505 B St., Santa Rosa, 707-579-1500).

To reach the sculptures, walk through the history museum, out a back door, and down a short set of concrete steps. You'll find sculptures nestled at the feet of giant redwood trees, and a crushed rock path leading to a wide range of artwork. (Those with mobility issues can ask at the front desk to have a ground-level gate opened for easier access; there's an outdoor lift to get inside the machine, which has a long flight of front steps.)

From Mario Uribe's steel-and-cactus "Peace Tree" to Bruce Johnson's 16-foot-tall "Sequoia" featuring old-growth redwood, copper, and slate, this is art you can walk around, and through. Benches are scattered here and there, for those who want to sit and contemplate.

Visiting the sculpture garden costs $10 for adults; $7 students/seniors; and children 12 and under are free, This fee includes admission to both the history and art museums. Laminated maps identifying the pieces in the sculpture garden are available on loan from the front desk of the history museum.

The sculpture garden is a small artistic oasis in downtown Santa Rosa, which is filled with vibrant life. Across the street from the museums you'll find the Santa Rosa Plaza shopping center, and Old Courthouse Square at the corner of Santa Rosa Avenue and Fourth Street is just a few blocks away.

Stroll down Fourth Street, where you'll find shops, galleries, coffee houses, outdoor cafes, and delis. Less than a mile away you'll find historic Railroad Square and the landmark Luther Burbank Home & Gardens.

For even more options, search our lists of things to do, restaurants, and hotels in Sonoma County.

Written by Sonoma Insider Patricia Lynn Henley.