Not many people know about the Gilgal Sculpture Garden, but once you have discovered it, it will quickly become one of your favorite places in Salt Lake City!
Once a backyard vision, it is now a public park for all to enjoy. With twelve original sculptures and over seventy stones engraved with scriptures, poems, and literary texts, Gilgal Sculpture Garden is the only identified “visionary art environment” in Utah.
Gilgal Garden was created by LDS businessman Thomas Battersby Child, Jr. (1888-1963) in his spare time. Mr. Child was a masonry contractor and Bishop of the historic 10th Salt Lake LDS Ward, located just North of the Garden on 800 West 400 South. His vision was to create a retreat from the world and a tribute to his most cherished religious and personal beliefs.
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Child began building the garden in 1945 at the age of 57, and continued building it until his death in 1963. Many of the sculptures and quotations found at the garden refer to LDS themes: the restoration of the Priesthood, the great Mormon migration west, and the similarities between the Israelites and the Mormon migration West. Child shared the garden with many visitors over his lifetime and after his death, and he knew that not everyone would agree with or appreciate his vision. He is known as quoting “You don’t have to agree with me, you may think I am a nut, but I hope I have aroused your thinking and curiosity.” For further explanation of each sculpture, you can take an interactive tour of the Garden.
The name Gilgal refers to a Biblical location meaning “circle of standing stones” where Joshua ordered the Israelites to place twelve stones as a memorial. Gilgal is also the name of a city and a valley in The Book Of Mormon, a sacred scripture from the LDS church that Thomas Child held dear to his heart. Although Child was not a classically trained artist, he created a workshop in his yard and shaped stones into the beloved garden it is today. All of the finish work for his statues was completed on the site.
You can visit theGilgal Sculpture Garden:
8am to 8pm April through September
9am to 5pm October through March
It is closed on Christmas, New Years, and Thanksgiving
It is located at 749 East 500 South in Salt Lake City, Utah.