The sculpture garden atop the Grohmann Museum is more than an extension of the Man at Work art collection. The roof is a Green Roof — an energy-saving and environmentally friendly alternative to a conventional rooftop. The plant and grass-covered roof keeps the building cooler in the summer, saves energy and extends the useful life of the roof. Rainwater is also trapped in the plantings, reducing the amount of storm water runoff that enters the city’s sewer system.
A dozen large, bronze sculptures – men toiling in the field and foundry, heaving hammers or pinching molten metal with hot tongs – perch on the roof line of the Grohmann Museum. These fellows, each about 9 feet tall and weighing in at a thousand pounds a piece, have a commanding view of a city that was built on the hard work they depict.
The commissioned sculptures, replicas of smaller bronzes in the collection, were fabricated in the Philippines through a process called lost-foam casting that transformed them from their original size of about 19-inches to larger-than-life scale.
The process involves sculpting the works out of polystyrene and then creating a casting, which employs a series of steps using wax, ceramic and molten bronze.
In addition to the 12 large-scale works, another six sculptures are displayed in the 10,000 square-foot garden’s interior. The space is perfect place for enjoying sculpture, contemplation or entertaining.
In July 2008, the Allegory of Industry and Agriculture mural was unveiled atop the Grohmann Museum. The mural is inspired by one of the oldest paintings in the Man at Work collection, Fantastic River Landscape with Ironworks, 1609 by Marten van Valckenborch (Flemish, 1535-1612). Artist Hans Dieter Tylle created a very bright and light-flooded landscape painting for the rooftop mural. The scenery reflects elements of the original painting but Tylle used his own artisitic interpretation based on ideas from the French Impressionist. Two bronze sculptures in a trompe-I’œil -like foreground make the onlooker walk into the painting. For this large-scale exterior project, Tylle used Keim mineral silicate paints from Germany.