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Tampa garden becomes piece of art as residents work to restore it

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Kiley Garden Tampa Robert Boyd.png
Posted at 9:47 AM, Feb 24, 2022

TAMPA — Thousands of people are expected to visit the Gasparilla Music Festival in downtown Tampa this weekend, but how many of them will realize they’ll be standing or dancing on a work of art.

It’s called Kiley Garden and it's front and center of a brand new art exhibit at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts.

It’s rare when you go to an art exhibit and then walk outside to see the real thing, but that’s what’s currently on display at The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley.

“I think that he was just a master of combining the design and functionality of the space that he created,” said FMoPA's Executive Director Zora Carrier. “He was an inspiration for architects who are creating projects today."

However, it’s the garden named after himself, located outside Rivergate Tower, that resonates most with Tampa residents.

“When Kiley Garden was first built it was gorgeous, people came and marveled at it, there was a woman who became a landscape architect because she was so impressed with it, there were fountains, there were trees, it was beautiful, it was quiet, it was tranquil,” said Linda Saul-Sena.

Saul-Sena was on Tampa City Council when the garden opened in 1988. She’s disappointed that many of the trees and other attributes that made it so remarkable are no longer here.

“Most people don’t even know this was here. It was such a special place and only very high profile, affluent cities got Kiley Gardens,” said Saul-Sena.

So Saul-Sena is hoping this exhibit sparks a renewed interest in the garden. There is even an organization called Friends of Kiley Garden.

“There are residents, there are people who work in these towers, there are people who remember how beautiful it was who are all coming together to get the garden restored,” said Saul-Sena.

Their first goal is to re-plant the trees, the way Kiley intended.

To instill how magical of a place Kiley Garden was the Friends of Kiley Garden are looking for old stories and photos from the public. You can share them HERE.

The Landscape Architectural Legacy of Dan Kiley is on view until April 10. The exhibit is presented by The Cultural Landscape Foundation. For more information go to www.tclf.org.