Suzaan Boettger, Art Historian and Professor, Writes in Support of "Greenwood Pond: Double Site"

Photo of Dr. Suzaan Boettger by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders -

On April 15, 2024, Suzaan Boettger wrote the following letter to the Des Moines Art Center (DMAC) Director Kelly Baum concerning plans to demolish Greenwood Pond: Double Site, a site-specific installation by the internationally acclaimed leader of the land art movement, Mary Miss, commissioned for the Art Center’s permanent collection. The work, which opened in 1996, is in a diminished condition with some sections fenced off, suggesting the DMAC has not fulfilled its contractual obligation to “reasonably protect and maintain” the work. The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) is calling for the DMAC to reverse it demolition decision and, instead, to engage in meaningful consultations with the artist and others to find a solution that restores the artwork and develops a long-term, ongoing maintenance plan.





Dear Kelly Baum,  

Greenwood Pond: Double Site is a major work of public land art.  It is historically important both as an example of the genre of expansive and experiential urban land art of the 1980s and ‘90s art and as the work of a boldly creative artist who is a woman. Thus the smartest thing the Des Moines Art Center could do is herald its commissioning and maintenance of this work as exemplifying your institution's innovative stance toward culture and the unique experience it offers the Art Center’s visitors.  

As an art historian and professor, I taught about this work every semester in both introductory surveys and specialized classes on contemporary art.

And I wrote about or referred to Miss’s importance in these articles: 

“Maya Lin’s Hybrid Field,” Art in America 97, no. 9, October, 2009, 118-121 

“Looking at, and Overlooking, Women Working in Land Art in the 1970s.”www.weadartists.org 2008 

“Excavating Land Art by Women in the 1970s: Discoveries and Oversights,” Sculpture 27 no. 9 (November 2008 ): 38-45 

“Global Warnings,” Art in America 96 no. 6 (June/July 2008): 154-161, 206-207 

“Women on the Land,” (review of monographs on Alice Aycock, Patricia Johanson, Mary Miss), Art in America 95, no 6 (June/July 2007): 61-63 

And in two books, 

Earthworks: Art and the Landscape of the Sixties, University of California Press, 2002 

Inside the Spiral: The Passions of Robert Smithson, University of Minnesota Press, 2023  

The presence of Greenwood Pond: Double Site on the land of the Des Moines Art Center should be featured in all of the museum’s communications. Embracing Miss’s design of distinctive environmental beauty will draw viewers to your museum, who will then experience the interior exhibitions and collection.    

It should be obvious that destroying Greenwood Pond: Double Site – an act art historically, socially and institutionally obtuse – will damage the reputation of both the Des Moines Art Center and its leadership.  Instead, rally local corporations and patrons to the necessity to fund its restoration and maintenance in perpetuity.  

Best wishes,       



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