Morris County Park Commission Receives Prestigious Award

April 11, 2024

Morris County, NJ

Seward Johnson Exhibition at Willowwood Arboretum Cited for Excellence

The Morris County Park Commission has received the Excellence in Special Events Award from the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association (NJRPA) for “The Living Sculpture: A Seward Johnson Exhibition at Willowwood Arboretum,” a special installation that was open daily to the public from July until November last year.

“Congratulations to the Morris County Park Commission on receiving the distinguished award from the NJRPA. This certainly was a unique exhibit featured at the Willowwood Arboretum and I know a lot of work went into coordinating it. Everyone involved in putting this special project together for the public deserves to be applauded,” said Morris County Commissioner Doug Cabana, liaison to the Morris County Parks Commission.

Johnson, known for his life sized and large-scale bronze sculptures that depict everyday life, was born in New Jersey in 1930. He founded the Johnson Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture in 1974 and The Grounds for Sculpture Park and Museum in 1992, both in Hamilton, N.J.

The sculptures had been previously exhibited in downtown business areas, but the exhibit at Willowwood Arboretum placed the sculptures in bucolic outdoor surroundings similar to The Grounds for Sculpture Park.

“The goal of Morris County’s ‘The Living Sculpture: A Seward Johnson Exhibition’ was to bring art to the average citizen. Although the Johnson sculptures are available for regular public exhibits through the Johnson Atelier, it is somewhat unusual for a park system to be able to provide such access,” said David Guida, an NJRPA Awards Committee Member. “Johnson’s vision is to make sculpture accessible to all; how fitting that the Willowwood Arboretum exhibit was able to do just that.”

The award was formally presented this past Tuesday to the Morris County Park Commission during a meeting at the Morris County Cultural Center in Morris Township. Guida initially presented the award on Feb. 27 to Commission Assistant Deputy Director Denise Lanza during the NJRPA Annual Awards Dinner in Atlantic City.

“Parks have an essential purpose in bringing communities together,” said Lanza. “That we could exhibit Johnson’s artwork in a natural setting and make it available for the public to enjoy is a testament to that objective.”

The exhibit was on loan from the Johnson Atelier and the loan fee for the sculptures was covered by the Alliance for Morris County Parks through grants and sponsorships, and included funds from the Park Commission’s Tubbs Trust, and the Willowwood Foundation.

The Morris County Park Commission maintains more than 20,455 acres of parkland, the largest county park system in the state, which includes 253 miles of trails and 38 special facilities, from an ice-skating arena and arboreta to a variety of conservation, educational and recreational amenities. More than 4 million people visit Morris County parks and facilities each year to experience nature and a variety of award-winning programs, special events and activities for all ages.

For more information about the Morris County parks and upcoming events activities, visit

The NJRPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting parks and recreation. The purpose of the NJRPA Awards Program is to honor and identify dedicated leaders, employees and volunteers in the field of Parks and Recreation, and to recognize the state’s outstanding Recreation and Park agencies for excellence in programming.