By Julie Lawrence Special to Published May 11, 2010 at 4:27 PM

For decades, the treasure trove of sculptural art on display in the gardens on the former River Hills estate of Harry and Peg Bradley was little more than a private experience.

Formerly known as the Bradley Sculpture Garden, the Lynden Sculpture Garden has historically been a visual pleasure for the few who called the Lynden house home, but beginning May 30, we'll all be able to indulge in it.

May 30 marks the grand opening of the sculpture garden to the public. The 12-5 p.m. event includes tours of the newly-renovated house, grounds and sculpture, performances, entertainment, and activities for the entire family.

The sculpture garden, located at 2145 W. Brown Deer Rd., officially opens to the public June 2 for daily tours for the first time -- save for occasional tours and parties -- since Peg Bradley began collecting sculpture in 1962.

She collected until her death in 1978, earning the gardens a world renowned reputation. The collection includes more than 50 pieces by artists such as Alexander Archipenko, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Clement Meadmore, Marta Pan, Tony Smith and Mark di Suvero.

But the estate offers even more than a chance for art aficionados to appreciate fine taste; it's also become a sanctuary for nature lovers. With more than 40 acres of park, lake and woodland to explore and the addition of a picnic area and bike racks, the gardens are a great family attraction.

"We expect Lynden will become a resource for the entire community and a place that people will return to frequently, whether it's for a picnic on a Wednesday evening, a visit to one of our changing exhibitions or educational programs, or simply to enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons in the sculpture garden," says David Uihlein, president of the Bradley Family Foundation board, which owns and operates the garden.

The original Lynden house has been transformed as well using sustainable building practices and was designed to achieve LEED certification.

The newly-created public spaces include a conference room, a large classroom/studio, a gallery and a glassed-in function space overlooking the large patio. A large proportion of the existing structure was re-used or maintained, and more than 75 percent of the construction and demolition waste was recycled, re-used or otherwise diverted from landfills.

Among the many sustainable features are a state-of-the-art geothermal heating system and pervious asphalt pavement that promotes drainage.

Eco-sensitive landscaping includes the preservation of mature trees, the re-introduction of native species, and sustainable drainage and care strategies. The renovated residence is available as a conference and retreat center, and for event rentals.

Day membership is $9 for adults and $7 reduced (students, seniors, active military and children aged 6-17). Children under 6 are admitted free with an adult.

There will be a docent-led tour of the sculpture collection each Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The fee for the tour is $12 for adults and includes day membership in the Lynden Sculpture Garden. To reserve a spot on a Sunday tour, e-mail the tour scheduler at or call (414) 446-8481.

Annual membership ranges from $20 for students to $60 for families. Docent-led tours of the sculpture garden are available six days a week (no tours on Thursdays). These tours must be arranged in advance; contact the tour scheduler for details.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”