Everson Museum of Art Outdoor Plaza: Backyard Treasure

I.M. Pei_Designed_Everson_Museum_of_Art

The I.M. Pei-designed Everson Museum of Art.

Remember that kid in Jerry Macguire who liked sharing obscure facts – like that the human head weighs 8 pounds? I’m that kid, grown up. On the trail of life, I like gathering little crumbs of knowledge. And one of my favorite pastimes is giving native Syracusans a positive fact to chew on when they complain about their hometown. I like proving people wrong with an unexpected bit of information, or at least serving food for thought.

That’s what I did with my friend, coworker, and lifetime Syracuse resident, Nell, during our lunch break last week while walking to the Everson Museum of Art. To be fair, Nell isn’t a Syracuse basher, but she was surprised when I shared my Everson fact: It was designed by I.M. Pei, the same world-famous architect who created the Louvre’s pyramids, the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and even an apartment for Steve Jobs. And Syracuse has not one, but two, Pei buildings; the Syracuse University S.I. Newhouse School being the other Pei-produced architectural masterpiece.


Spring arrives. The ice melts on the Everson's pool.

Ask Nell about San Francisco where she lived for three years, and you’ll get an insider’s take on the city. She’ll tell you about the hidden yet hip Savoy bar with outdoor pool tables or Crissy Field, the best place to walk in Golden Gate Park (you walk right under the bridge!). Yet, Nell admitted she hadn’t been to the Everson since a grade school field trip and didn’t even know about the outdoor plaza in the back. I think most of us can relate: We’ll explore and ultimately idolize a new place, but ignore the treasures in our own backyards. I know I’m guilty: As a Michigan native and art museum lover, I haven’t even been to the Detroit Institute of Arts! But back to the trail…

As Nell and I approached the Everson, she eyed the Cubist-looking building with admiration. But it was the large sunken pool in the plaza that really impressed her. Not visible from the streets, the pool must be experienced from within the Everson grounds. You could walk by it, and not even know it was there. That day, the pool reflected our annual wish for spring: The sun and fifty degree weather had melted the pool’s ice. Nell and I walked around its perimeter, listening to the wheel-to-concrete rumble of a few bikers – an audible complement to Pei’s textured cement structure. We checked out the outdoor sculptures, then walked back to work. Nell thanked me for the lunchtime tour and I felt smugly satisfied, having shown a townie a new treasure.


Nell at the "Wishing Tree" sculpture outside the Everson.

Maybe I’m still in the honeymoon phase, but I love living in Central New York after calling it home for six years. When my born-and-raised Syracuse friends bemoan their city, I always jump in with my Jerry Macguire kid bit, sharing facts and then setting a date to visit a cool local spot – like the Everson. To my Syracuse cynics, the grass looks greener in bigger cities where there is more “going on” or in milder climates (the Carolinas are full of expatriate Central New Yorkers) where a snow plow has never scraped the streets. But one fact I know for sure: No matter where you live, it’s like the grass in any backyard, there are patches of dull brown – but also plenty of emerald green.

More Pei

See more Pei buildings here.

Visit the Everson

For me the highlight of the Everson is the building itself, although the art inside is impressive as well. Pei has created an inviting and timeless structure. I love the gracefully spiraling cement staircase. Cement is graceful, you wonder? Yes. Visit the Everson, and see for yourself.

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8 comments to Everson Museum of Art Outdoor Plaza: Backyard Treasure

  • Kathleen Sullivan

    Tidbits of information about life are always such a treat when they are offered as little gems! Much of the of the impact that you make in sharing your Syracuse-admiring facts is the wonder in your voice and the excitement on your face as you share them. That sort of conspiracy-like tone that gives the listener the impression that they are going to here a juicy bit of local gossip. AND it works! Mission accomplished!
    On another note, you MUST visit the Detroit Institute of Arts the next time you are in Michigan! You will be awed by the collection of armour from the Middle Ages, by the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections, and by the larger-than-life Diego Rivera mural in the atrium! The museum is a sanctuary that always inspires me to be more introspective and more “historical” in my thinking. I feel more intelligent when I am there which is what experiencing human creativity should give us in the first place: a bigger-than-life perspective of our part in the amazing world around us!

  • Hi Lindsay! Finally getting a chance to visit the blog — great writing — makes me for sure want to come to Syracuse! Adding the Everson Museum to my list!

    BTW, “the human head weighs 8 lbs” is one of my favorite lines — that kid was awesome. There is this one scene in JM where the kiddo runs off and you just hear his voice and see his little spikes of hair running behind the couch! LOVE it!

    Thanks for visiting OUR blog too!

  • Lindsay

    Kathleen, thanks for your comment – it was like a mini-tour of the DIA, maybe someday you can guest blog on a favorite Ann Arbor outdoor spot! I love being in art museums for the same reasons you do, each piece of art is someone’s unique perspective on the world. Art museums really are “sanctuaries” of creative thinking.

  • Lindsay

    Trailing Thought Readers, check out Bethany’s blog for the “scoop” on my favorite guilty pleasure…


    Lindsay — always enjoy your take on things. Yes, Syracuse is full of hidden treasures and after 50 years of living here I keep finding them. Looking forward to your new discoveries! Keep it up.

  • I’m impressed! After reading your post I can tell you are well-informed about your writing. If only I had your writing ability. I look forward to more updates and will be returning.Cheers!

  • Lindsay

    Carole, let me know about your most recent treasure – I’ll have to pay a visit!

  • Lindsay

    Hi Mickey, I’m glad you’ll be joining me on the “trail” here at my blog. Your comments are much appreciated and like I mentioned to Carole above, let me know of any cool open spaces you think I should visit!

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