Featured Trips Types:

  • All Featured Trips
  • 48 Hour City Guides
  • Family Road Trips
  • Classic USA Road Trips
  • Scenic Drives
  • Movie Filming Locations
  • Outdoor Escapes
  • National Parks Trips & Tips
  • Weird Guides
  • Interstate Highway Exit Guides
  • Ghost Guides
  • Full Metal History
  • Plan Your Island Escape to Georgia's Golden Isles
Clear All

Accommodation Types:

  • All Accommodation
  • Bed and Breakfasts & Inns
  • Boutique Hotels
  • Holiday Inn
  • Hostels
  • Hotels
  • Motels
  • Unique Stays

FastBook

Look for FastBook for quick links to
your favorite booking sites

Clear All

Attractions & Culture Types:

  • All Attractions & Culture
  • Amusement Parks
  • Children's Attractions
  • Fall Attractions
  • Museums
  • Offbeat Attractions
  • Top Attractions
  • Tours & Excursions
  • Winter Attractions
  • Zoos & Aquariums
Viator
Look for the icon to book the best
tours and activities nearby.
Clear All

Food & Drink Types:

  • All Food & Drink
  • Bars & Drinks
  • Burgers & BBQ
  • Coffee & Tea
  • Delis & Bakeries
  • Diners & Breakfast Spots
  • Ice Cream & Sweets
  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian & Health Food
  • Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries
Clear All

Outdoors & Recreation Types:

  • All Outdoors & Recreation
  • Beaches
  • Fall Foliage
  • Geographical Areas
  • Geographical Features
  • National Parks
  • Nature Reserves
  • Parks & Gardens
  • Scenic Point
  • Swimming Spots
  • Trails & Hikes
Clear All

Points of Interest Types:

  • All Points of Interest
  • Abandoned
  • Architecture
  • College Icons
  • Film & TV
  • Historic
  • Holiday Lights
  • Literature
  • Military
  • Monuments
  • Photo Op
  • Planes, Trains, Autos
  • Public Art
  • Science & Tech
  • Spooky Places
Clear All

Vacation Rentals Types:

  • All Vacation Rentals
  • HomeAway
  • Vacation Rentals

We’ve partnered with HomeAway to find you the perfect vacation rental.

Clear All

Camping & RV Types:

  • All Camping & RV
  • Cottages & Cabins
  • KOA Campgrounds
  • RV Parks
  • Tent Campgrounds
Clear All

Entertainment & Nightlife Types:

  • All Entertainment & Nightlife
  • Art Galleries
  • Casinos & Gaming
  • Cinemas
  • Games & Amusements
  • Music
  • Nightlife
  • Shows & Entertainment
  • Theaters
Clear All

Services Types:

  • All Services
  • ATMs
  • Auto Services
  • Gas/Fuel Stations
  • Rest Areas
  • Tourist Information
  • Transportation
  • Vehicle Rental
Clear All

Shopping Types:

  • All Shopping
  • Antiques
  • Books & Music
  • Crafts & Handmade
  • General Goods
  • Gifts & Souvenirs
  • Groceries
  • Malls & Shopping Areas
  • Quirky Shops
  • Thrift & Flea
Clear All

Sports Types:

  • All Sports
  • Adventure Sports
  • Cycling
  • Equestrian Sports
  • Fishing & Hunting
  • Golf
  • Gyms & Fitness
  • Skate & Surf Spots
  • Stadiums
  • Water Sports
  • Winter Sports
Clear All

Motoring Types:

  • All Motoring
  • Automotive Attractions
  • Off-Road Trails
  • Racetracks
  • Scenic Drives
Clear All
  • Trip
  • Places I've Been
  • My Saved Places
  • Collection
  • Featured Trips
  • Accommodation
  • Attractions & Culture
  • Food & Drink
  • Outdoors & Recreation
  • Points of Interest
  • Vacation Rentals
  • Camping & RV
  • Entertainment & Nightlife
  • Services
  • Shopping
  • Sports
  • Motoring
  • DON'T FORGET TO SAVE YOUR TRIP. CLICK HERE.

0 Layers
3.9
29 votes

Gilgal Sculpture Gardens

749 E 500 S - Hours Oct - March 9 AM to 5 PM -- Apr - Sept 8 AM to 8 PM, Salt Lake City, Utah 84102 USA

Free
Free to Visit
Open Now
Mon 9a-5p
  • Independent
Add to Trip

“Utah's only visionary art movement full of spooky sculptures”

Formerly the secret garden of Salt Lake, Gilgal Sculpture Garden is now a public city park, open daily for the enjoyment, bewilderment, and sheer horror of all.

Located at 749 East 500 South in Salt Lake City, Gilgal Sculpture Garden was envisioned, designed and created by Thomas Battersby Child, Jr. in the mid-twentieth century.

Tucked in the middle of the block behind houses and businesses, many are still unaware of its existence and enjoy a true sense of discovery when they visit the garden for the first time. Gilgal Sculpture Garden contains 12 original sculptures and over 70 stones engraved with scriptures, poems, and literary texts. As a whole, Gilgal Sculpture Garden is significant as the only identified "visionary art environment" in Utah. 

Thomas Child, a masonry contractor and Bishop of the 10th Salt Lake LDS ward, conceived of a symbolic sculpture garden that would be a retreat from the world and a tribute to his most cherished religious and personal beliefs, but it mostly ended up as super spooky.

Child began building the garden in the back yard of his family home in 1947, when he was 57 years old, and continued to pour his time and money into the work until his death in 1963.

Child named the garden Gilgal after the Biblical location where Joshua ordered the Israelites to place twelve stones as a memorial. The name "Gilgal" is sometimes translated to mean "circle of standing stones," an appropriate appellation for a sculpture garden. 

Many of the sculptures and quotations found at Gilgal refer to LDS themes: the restoration of the Priesthood, the great Mormon migration west, and the many similarities Child saw between the ancient Israelites and his LDS forefathers.

Although Child was not a classically trained artist, he went to great lengths to obtain and shape the perfect stones for his beloved garden. He created a complete workshop in his yard for handling and cutting the stones, proudly stating that all the finish work for his statues was completed on the site. He also used some unconventional tools to cut the stones, including an oxyacetylene torch (usually used for welding). Besides help from his son-in-law Bryant Higgs, Child hired Maurice Edmunds Brooks to help with the Gilgal project.

The finished statues are likewise unconventional, even eccentric: a sacrificial altar, a shrine to Child's beloved wife Bertha, even a sphinx with the face of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. Child, who shared the garden with thousands of visitors over his lifetime, knew that not everyone would appreciate his particular artistic vision. His primary concern, however, was that the garden would succeed in making people think: "You don't have to agree with me," he said. "You may think I am a nut, but I hope I have aroused your thinking and curiosity."

Hours: Oct - March 9 AM to 5 PM. Apr - Sept 8 AM to 8 PM

Read More >
Add Review
Thanks!
Your Rating
1
2
3
4
5

Reviewed by
whatever_dude

  • 2 Reviews
  • 8 Helpful
June 17, 2014

I can't believe you found this place. I had no idea it was now public. I would have thought the uptight LDS church leadership would have bought it up and closed it down years ago, since it doesn't exactly toe the party line. Maybe they learned their lesson from the Salamander Letter scandal.

It's a really cool installation--dude was a real artist, concerned with stimulating questions and conversation. His garden certainly does that in spades.

6 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Kathleen Oanes

  • Road Warrior
  • 79 Reviews
  • 37 Helpful
August 20, 2014
Rated 3.0

Definitely a strange outdoor museum. There is a box at the entrance which had booklets in it. It describes the sculptures and the artists that made them. The garden was pretty. The whole place itself was well maintained. A good spot for those who would like to have a quiet afternoon.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
XtinaLaPerrona

  • 3 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
August 2, 2014
Rated 5.0

Awesome spot!

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
xtal

  • 2 Reviews
  • 5 Helpful
November 28, 2013

Weird place. Weird vibe. Pretty creepy.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Gabriel Michael

  • 10 Reviews
  • 8 Helpful
August 2, 2015
Rated 3.0

Interesting little park. and I mean little. only took me about 20 min to go through it. some of the stuff is fun to look at though. there were a good amount of flowers blooming while I was there. I honestly spent about the same amount of time looking at them as I did the art sculptures. all in all I'm glad I stopped. but you don't need a lot of time to see it.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
melissa.sokolinski

  • 7 Reviews
  • 5 Helpful
November 10, 2014

Really wish it was open on for us to see. Was really looking forward to this stop. Our road trip worked out where we got into town around 9 and it was closed. Locals said it was a hidden gem though!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
CoffinBuilder

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
August 18, 2014
Rated 5.0

I can't quite describe how I felt in that garden. It was conflict. The art was cool and well done but, not being an LDS I felt like part of me was not welcome there. I would suggest anyone to come check this out. Fair warning, I had to drive past it once by accident to find it.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
brittanyoliphant

  • 3 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
July 14, 2016
Rated 4.0

Definitely worth a quick stop. If not for statues, then for a beautiful garden full of flowers. We took our dog with us. No problems. I'm not LDS, so I wasn't familiar with much of the content. But still interesting.

Was this helpful?

Reviewed by
ElizabethDonavyn

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
June 29, 2016
Rated 4.0

Cool and creepy, lol I enjoyed it.

Was this helpful?

Reviewed by
karenkathleen

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
May 30, 2016

Good comment

Was this helpful?

Be the first to add a review to the Gilgal Sculpture Gardens.

Gilgal Sculpture Gardens

749 E 500 S - Hours Oct - March 9 AM to 5 PM -- Apr - Sept 8 AM to 8 PM
Salt Lake City, Utah
84102 USA

Own this location? Claim your listing.

Hours

Open now until 5:00 pm
  • Sun - Sat: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Is there a problem with this listing? Let us know.

  • Independent
  • Street Parking

Nearby Hotels

Salt Lake City, Utah
FastBook
$$$

Click to find a
great deal for this hotel

Salt Lake City, Utah
FastBook
$$

Click to find a
great deal for this hotel

Salt Lake City, Utah
FastBook
$$$

Click to find a
great deal for this hotel

Salt Lake City, Utah
FastBook
$$$

Click to find a
great deal for this hotel

43842