When you think of Loveland, Colorado, chances are that African art does not pop into your mind’s eye. Yet Chapungu Sculpture Park is North America’s only permanent collection of Shona sculpture from Zimbabwe, and it calls Loveland home. Why here? The founders wanted to share personal passions for this art and build bridges between continents. They celebrate humanity’s connection to the natural world. Rough-hewn edges, geologic striations and colorations give each piece a completely unique appeal. Nestled next to a typical suburban shopping center parking lot, Chapungu is an unexpectedly rich cultural experience.
Visit at any time of year to enjoy these exuberantly rugged sculptures in a natural Colorado landscape of cottonwoods, wetlands and meadow. Colorado’s ever changing weather sheds new light on each sculpture; summer sun and winter snows make the art experience unique. A meandering trail provides intimate access and interesting signage along the way provides helpful insight. Thoughtfully clustered into themes such as Family, Elders, Children and Love, the pieces speak to humanity’s essential truths with an authentic African voice. Allow one to two hours to enjoy at an easy going pace; or tackle it a bit at a time and return another day.
Kids enjoy the freedom to wander and touch, especially in the Children theme area where sculptures are smaller in scale and depict favorite childhood activities. A grassy lookout hill invites them to climb and roll around. Bring a picnic and spread a blanket on the lush lawn, or try a nearby restaurant. Entry is free. There is a public toilet and the nearby shopping complex is easily accessible with other amenities. With a blend of gravel and paved paths, most of the park is wheelchair accessible.
Chapungu Sculpture Park makes for a great Denver half day trip. About 30 minutes north on I-25, take exit 257; head east and look for Centerra Parkway, turn north. The park is on the left (west) alongside the Promenade Shops at Centerra.