Frederik Meijer Gardens gets PUNK'D!

On Monday Sept. 18, a mysterious press release was posted on a website, Paletta Grande. The website attempts to historicize a fictional Italian sculptor named Francesco Nicola Sansovino, who is responsible for the design of Paletta Grande [tanslated from Italian means "Big Scoop"]. The press release even includes,


what seem to be fabricated, quotes from Meijer Gardens head curator - Joseph Becherer. One of Becherer's possibly fabricated quotes from the press release include, “We are pleased to work with Fondamento per la Scultura Naturale (Foundation for Natural Sculpture) to bring about this important piece of whimsical imagery. A very big horse makes for very big poop and very big poop calls for a very big scoop. Sansovino's grand vision is now fulfilled, to see us smile at ourselves and find playful delight in the creativity of art in all its frolicsome forms, even mischievousness.”

Photos of Paletta Grande also appeared on a Flickr account under the user name Pietro Sorrento. The photos seem to be nothing more than a photoshopped spoof, but at this point nothing can be confirmed.

The name Francesco Nicola Sansovino turns up nothing on a simple Google search, but the names Francesco, Nicola and Sansovino are all common among Italian Renaissance sculptors - this new fictional name simply being a conglomoerate of others true names.

The press release also not only reported William Faulkner's presence at Meijer Gardens and ground breaking speech for Paletta Grande, but it mentions Meijer Gardens partnership with the "Alliance of MICHief in MICHigan (," which gives this away as a well executed prank.

Who is this Ashton Kutcher of the art world? Sounds like a young Maurizio Catalan.

LAMB has contacted the Sculpture Department at the Meijer Gardens for more information.

Posted on September 25, 2006 2:52 PM


Re: Frederich Meijer Gardens gets PUNK'D!

The photos are no spoof. Fox 17 Morning News ran a short clip on this prank yesterday - it actually happened. Also the Flickr account has photos of the big scoop under construction.

Posted by: Mary Johnson on September 28, 2006 11:14 AM

Oh, it was real, I saw it up close. The Paletta Grande exhibit opened at Frederik (note spelling) Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on Saturday, Sept 16 at around 10:00 AM and enjoyed public display until approximately 2:30 PM. For all we know now, its probably part of Frederik’s own private basement collection.

Posted by: Brian Burch on September 28, 2006 12:08 PM

The website for the Grand Rapids Alliance of MICHief in MICHigan ( turns out to be the actual website for Turkish Virtual Airlines. I wonder, what's the connection?

Another curiosity, the phone number 877-907-2667 given as the contact number in the phony press release turns out to be none other than the real number 877-90-SCOOP for Poop Scoop King of Michigan (

Could this all be just an elaborate publicity stunt and marketing campaign? It's a conspiracy I say! Meijer Gardens wasn’t punk’d, they’re in bed with these companies and arranged the whole darn thing!

Posted by: Rick Jensen on September 28, 2006 10:04 PM

I can only imagine that this was an inside job. Given the perimeter security and video cameras that are clearly visible surrounding the American horse, I find it hard to believe that someone just strolled into the park with a 12x12 foot scoop and 22 foot handle then set it up in broad daylight without someone at FMG knowing about it. Also consider the fact that the scoop was not removed immediately, but remained on display for over 4 hours. It suspiciously points to an FMG insider.

I caught the Fox 17 news segment that aired on the 10pm news and again the following morning.
The distraught woman interviewed went really overboard. She really needs to lighten up. The park was as you say punk'd. I laughed out loud.

Posted by: Sally Littlefair on October 2, 2006 3:03 PM

woah... there was a news segment? i am sorry i missed that.

so does that mean we "scooped" the news?


Posted by: george on October 5, 2006 3:31 PM

Officially for the record, rumors of Paletta Grande returning to Meijer Gardens on its March 16, 6-month anniversary are untrue.

Rumors are true however that Paletta Grande was quickly sold to a private collector. Waste Management of West Michigan secured

the sculpture at private auction for an undisclosed amount. Yes, even Meijer Gardens can have a sense of humor.

Recently the individual responsible for the exhibit was found to be one of our own. Disciplinary action was swift and

appropriately measured to deter copy-cats. Increased security measures have since been enacted throughout the park to protect

Meijer Gardens exhibits and other interests against theft, vandalism and Ashton Kutcher look-alikes.

Meijer Gardens thanks LAMB for their support of the gardens and the arts and requests that readers refrain from contacting the

park with inquiries concerning Paletta Grande.

Dr. Joseph Becherer, Ph.D
Curator of Sculpture
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Posted by: Joseph Becherer on February 19, 2007 7:32 AM

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