Artist Information

The North Carolina Botanical Garden seeks entries for the 35th annual Sculpture in the Garden exhibit. Since its inception in 1988, Sculpture in the Garden has united the work of local artists with the curated landscapes of the North Carolina Botanical Garden. Together, they invite visitors to experience art, the natural world, and the relationship between the two in a new way.

2023 Dates

This year’s show will run from Sunday, September 17 through Sunday, December 3. It will be free and open to the public during normal Garden hours (9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday).

Friday, June 30: Entries due

Monday, July 24: Artists notified of selection

Friday, August 4: Participation agreements due

August 31-September 9: Installation

Saturday, September 17: Preview Party, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

  • Free for artists and plus-ones; $30 for the public. First viewing of the show, beverages and hors d’oeuvres, and an award ceremony.

Sunday, September 18: Public opening, 1 p.m.

  • Free and open to the public; artists encouraged to attend

Sunday, December 3: Exhibit ends, 5 p.m. Please note: No sculptures may be removed from the show before Monday, December 4.

December 4–December 18: Pickup


Located off Fordham Boulevard in Chapel Hill, the North Carolina Botanical Garden (NCBG) is a center for the study, display, and conservation of southeastern native plants and natural areas. Ten fenced acres of display and habitat gardens surrounding the LEED Platinum certified Allen Education Center provide a number of distinct environments for sculpture. Our mission is to inspire understanding, appreciation, and conservation of plants and to advance a sustainable relationship between people and nature.

Each sculpture in the exhibit is assigned a number, and visitors use a map and guide and numbered interpretive signs by each sculpture to take a self-guided tour. View a past Map and Guide and an example interpretive sign for an idea of what visitors will see when they come to see the show.


To participate in Sculpture in the Garden, you must be 18 or older. As each artist is responsible for bringing, setting up, and then eventually removing their work from the Garden, we encourage local, North Carolina artists to enter.

Work you submit to Sculpture in the Garden must be:

  • Original: designed and created by you.
  • Able to stand freely or be minimally anchored in grit or soil: we have no dedicated sculpture pads or bases.
    • Sculptures designed to be mounted on a wall or hung must use hardware that doesn’t damage Garden buildings or trees.
    • We cannot accept sculptures into the show that require digging out and pouring a concrete base on site. (A concrete base you have already poured that can rest on top of a path may be accepted.)
  • Able to withstand pressure from wind, rain, freezing temperatures, and the activities of visitors and Garden staff.
    • Imagine a small child running up to your sculpture and grabbing onto it: does it have sharp or delicate structures that could hurt a child (or which they could damage)?
  • Completed before the show and require only minimal assembly.
  • New to the North Carolina Botanical Garden: it does not have to be a new work, but it can’t have been a part of a previous Sculpture in the Garden exhibit.

If you have questions about whether or not a sculpture might be suitable for this exhibit, you are welcome to contact exhibits coordinator to discuss different possibilities before applying:


Through Sculpture in the Garden, we invite visitors to consider the relationship between art and nature. We aim to create a show that will appeal to – and be appropriate for – people of all ages and backgrounds. This includes works in a wide variety of media and sizes, by a diverse group of artists, with interpretation provided by the artist that will help visitors appreciate the art, whether they have a long interest in art or whether it’s their first time at a sculpture show. Ultimately, we hope visitors will walk away with renewed interest in both art and nature.

All entries will be reviewed by Garden staff. Selected entries will meet all eligibility requirements; the Garden reserves the right not to accept sculptures deemed not supportive of our mission or that may pose a danger to visitors or plant collections. Artists who submit two pieces may have one, both, or neither piece selected. Artists will be notified by July 24 if their piece(s) have been selected.

Siting and Installation

Sculpture in the Garden is an exhibit within an exhibit: sculptures must be able to be maneuvered through Garden paths to reach their sites and installed in and around carefully curated horticultural displays and habitat gardens without damaging the plants they contain.

Heavy sculptures with large bases are restricted to a limited number of sites along grit paths. Sculptures on stakes or stands that are light on the landscape can be placed throughout the Garden. We have a limited number of raised beds: if your work is small in stature, we encourage you to consider incorporating a stand for it to securely rest on.

Garden staff determine sculpture siting and installation and supervise the installation process. If you have a particular request for site conditions, make a note of that in the optional entry form question.

View photos from previous Sculpture in the Garden exhibits


While we are not able to offer an honorarium for participating in the show, we offer a series of monetary awards each year. We anticipate a similar award structure to previous years, with juror-selected Best-in-Show ($1,500) and three Honorable Mentions ($500) and public-voted People’s Choice Awards ($1,000, $300, and $200 for first, second, and third places, respectively).

Liability and Insurance

The North Carolina Botanical Garden provides insurance coverage through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for sculpture while on our premises for exhibition purposes. All sculptures are displayed outdoors, so they must be weatherproof and durable. Insurance covers up to the stated value of the piece. In cases of severe weather, it is the responsibility of the artist to inform the show coordinator what, if any, action needs to be taken to protect their work.


Sales are encouraged, and all works are assumed to be available for purchase unless designated not for sale. All sculptures must remain on site until the close of the show. Once the show has begun, we cannot change the listed sale price of the work. Sales take place in the NCBG Garden Shop. Artists are promptly notified of sales and then are required to submit a W9 and direct deposit form to receive payment.

New this year: The North Carolina Botanical Garden retains a portion of the pre-tax sales price of sold sculptures, which is used to perpetuate the show. In 2023, we are implementing a tiered commission system, slightly reducing our traditional 30% commission on works above $2,000 and $4,000.

List Price NCBG Commission
Up to $1,999 30%
$2,000 to $3,999 25%
$4,000 and up 20%

Entry Procedure

Each artist may enter up to two works. Submissions must be received by Friday, June 30, 2023.

The entry form involves submitting basic contact information, an artist bio, and detailed information (including dimensions and photos) of artwork being submitted. Questions? Contact the show coordinator, Emily Oglesby, at

Featured Sculpture

A Special Opportunity

We hope to again include a large, statement sculpture behind our sign wall as part of Sculpture in the Garden. If you think your work might be a good fit for this site, on the high-visibility corner of Fordham Boulevard and Old Mason Farm Road, contact the show coordinator.