ACRE as a Teaching Tool

Support ACRE

The Artist in Residence program has attracted artists from around the world who seek to use Bernheim as their inspiration. Established in 1980, this internationally renowned program annually awards artists the opportunity to live and create site-specific work inspired by their total immersion experience in the natural environment. Work created through the program allows our visitors to connect with nature in new and exciting ways.

ACRE is a living installation covering an acre of ground near Lake Nevin, adjacent to Bernheim’s entrance. The boundary lines will be planted with native Cercis canadensis ‘Merlot’ redbud trees, which will demarcate the acre with vivid color year-round. Inside the perimeter, a native prairie under plating will add changing seasonal texture and color and habitat for hundreds of animal and insect species.

ACRE is a long-term investment. Over the ten-year budgeted period, nearly four million people will visit. Through walking through this living artwork and reading the interpretive signage, Bernheim guests will:

1. Understand the size of an acre by seeing it outlined and being able to walk through it.
2. Know the history of the forest, which most assume has always been there.
3. Recognize that something beautiful and beneficial can be created from any beginning with vision, patience, and hard work.
4. Learn about the salt and iron mining history of the area.
5. Discover the native plants that comprise the artwork and learn how incorporating them into their gardens could help increase biodiversity and environmental wellness.
6. Explore the ecological changes and challenges we face as acres of land are destroyed for commercial expansion locally and globally.

Artist Anne Peabody has worked with Bernheim’s Director of Horticulture Renee Frith and Natural Areas Manager Evan Patrick to design and develop a prairie underplanting using native species that will increase biodiversity while providing unexpected and bright color to the acre throughout the four seasons.