Creating the Park

Alabama Bicentennial Park is the result of the collective vision, dedication, and talents of dozens of individuals. It was dedicated on December 14, 2019--the 200th anniversary of Alabama statehood--to be the principal legacy of the state's bicentennial commemoration. A 2017 act of the Alabama Legislature authorized the Park's creation, intending that it be a place for the public to "unite in recognizing the challenges, accomplishments, and promise of Alabama and its remarkable people."


A request for proposals was issued by the State Council on the Arts in fall 2017, and sculptors from around the country expressed interest in the commission. Three finalist teams created examples of a narrative relief plaque depicting the same subject. Ultimately, artist Caleb O’Connor from Tuscaloosa was selected to realize the artistic components of the Park in collaboration with University of Alabama sculpture professor Craig Wedderspoon.


Overall direction of the Park's design and content was the responsibility of the Bicentennial Park Oversight Committee. Its members included the executive director of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission and leaders and professional staff of several state agencies, including the Department of Archives & History, the Department of Finance, the Historical Commission, and the State Council on the Arts. The City of Montgomery also provided vital partnership and expertise. An Advisory Committee with diverse membership provided guidance throughout the creative process.


O’Connor and the Bicentennial Park Oversight Committee embarked on a nearly two-year process of developing sketches for each of the sixteen panels. After several rounds of feedback from the Oversight and Advisory committees, O’Connor brought the sketches to life with clay sculptures, which finally made their way through the foundry process to become the bronze panels that adorn the Park today.


In a process that paralleled the development of the sculptures, a team at the Department of Archives & History drafted text panels and submitted them for review and revision by the Advisory and Oversight Committees.


Wedderspoon designed, fabricated, and installed the bases that hold the bronze narrative and text panels, and he oversaw foundry operations. Eagle Bronze also provided foundry services. Jonathan Cumberland provided design services for the text panels and in-ground signage around the Park.

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SKETCH GALLERY

Scroll through the images below to see early versions of the scenes depicted in the Park's bronze panels.