Explore Minnesota 2022

Episode Eight

Artists and Craftsmen of the Great River Road – Franconia Sculpture Park

Ginger Porchella talks about the experimental, contemporary sculptures that can be found at the Franconia Sculpture Park, a 43 acre park with over 100 sculptures.
Read the Podcast Transcript
Interviewer:  Tell me about Franconia.

Ginger:  Franconia was started in 1996 by a group of artists, who wanted to have a space where an artist working on sculpture and land art, and social practice could come and experiment and make new work and make art in a large scale.   We are located at the intersection of Hwys 8 and 95 in Schafer Minnesota.  We have a lot of really cool public programs for adults and youth.  We commission about 40 new artworks a year for our residency program.  We have artists from all over the world come in and make new work.  So its ever-changing.  We really want people to come and have fun, it’s a great place to come and have fun with friends and family.

Interviewer:  Ginger Porcella is the executive director and the chief curator of the park. So what are some of the examples of experimental art that you can see at Franconia.

Ginger:  A lot of the work that you see at Franconia is not necessarily the type of work that you would see at a museum.  It’s a little more contemporary, it’s exploring materials in a new way, it’s really expanding the confines of sculpture as a medium.   While we do have some more traditional sculptural pieces at the park, we’re really trying expand people’s understanding of what the medium is and what materials and what sort of concepts can be incorporated into  sculpture or land arts.  So for example we work with a lot of social practice artists, and some of those works may be more ephemeral in nature, they are not meant to last for a long time, but in fact we do work with a lot of artists whose art is meant to be more  temporary in nature, because of the materials they work with.

Interviewer:  Does the word Franconia mean anything?

Ginger:  Yeah Franconia, Minnesota, it’s a town.  Franconia Minnesota that we’re adjacent to.  When we started we were actually located in Franconia, literally just 1/4 mile away from where are now.   We’re on the St. Croix River.  So we’re really close to the Wisconsin border.  So we’re right on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border near Taylor Falls.  We really do a lot of work at the intersection of art and ecology and we encourage the  artists we work with to to think about the St. Croix River and that particular ecology when they are making their work.

Interviewer:  I’ve seen some pictures of Franconia that my friends have posted after visiting the museum and one of them has a hard time walking around and what she had posted I thought was really cool that there’s golf carts available for people that may have a hard time walking around to drive around and take a look at the artwork

Ginger:  We have golf carts that are available for visitors with mobility issues whether intellectually accessible or physically accessible.  It is super important to us that the space is welcoming for visitors from all over the world.  For any ages from any background we want people to feel welcome in our space and to be able to access all different areas of the park ground.

Interviewer:  Ginger Porcella is the executive director and chief curator of the Franconia outdoor sculpture Park. Ginger how do we go about finding more information about Franconia?

Ginger:  Our website is and find us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.  Our handle is @franconiamn.