Request for Proposals: Spring Enchantment Fairy Doors or Creature Homes

Outdoor Display

April 2023

Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University seeks proposals from artists to design, construct, and display unique site-specific fairy doors or creature homes for its 2023 temporary outdoor display in conjunction with Spring Enchantment. Collaboration is acceptable and encouraged.

Reiman Gardens

One of the largest public gardens in Iowa and creating a striking entrance to Iowa State university and the city of Ames, Reiman Gardens’ mission is “to educate, enchant, and inspire an appreciation of plants, butterflies, and the beauty of the natural world.” Situated on a 17-acre site, the year-round facility features 26 unique garden areas with seasonal displays designed around a grand theme that changes each year.

Inside there are two large glass houses; the breathtaking Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing, holding one of the most diverse collections of live, exotic butterflies in the country; and the indoor, tropical Hughes Conservatory open year-round. Reiman Gardens is home to Elwood, the world’s largest concrete gnome, and is one of the most unique gardens in the country available to student, faculty and staff exploration, research, and on-site learning. Key offerings also include seasonal public events, hundreds of educational programs for various audiences, and beautiful rental spaces for private events.

Exhibition Description

From Saturday, April 1st – Sunday, April 30th, 2023, Reiman Gardens will debut a new outdoor exhibition of fairy doors or creature homes inspired by nature. This show will feature 15 fairy doors or creature homes designed to be site-specific and inspired by the enchantment of nature and spring.

Artists will be selected through a competitive process to exhibit one of 15 fairy doors or creature homes in one of fifteen locations within Reiman Gardens’ 17 acres. These structures, together with interpretive materials, will form a display to celebrate spring and to enchant all visitors to the Gardens and encourage them to explore the landscape as spring emerges.  

We hope artists will offer an inspiring take on the theme of spring with a design that gracefully integrates into the landscape in one of the fifteen locations that will be selected upon completion.  Though not required, we encourage designers to consider the use of sustainable products to fabricate their structures to ensure that the project has minimal impact on the environment.

Key Exhibition Messages

To create a unique display of site-specific fairy doors or creature homes that explore the themes of spring, exploration, and discovery of the natural world.


  • To inspire people with the adventure and imagination behind fairy doors/creature homes as a special place to celebrate plants, insects, and nature
  • To promote Reiman Gardens and its mission
  • To educate the public about art, design, and its integration with nature
  • To provide a showcase for local, regional and national artists.

Stipend, Awards, Recognition

Selected designers/groups will receive a $50 stipend for exhibiting their work for the duration of the show. Half (50%) of the stipend is awarded upon signing the Exhibitor Agreement, the remainder (50%) after installation is satisfactorily completed.

We will hold voting for a People’s Choice Award, which will be announced just before the end of the exhibition. The name of each artist will be listed in printed exhibit-related materials, and in online interpretation.

Selection Process & Criteria

The Spring Enchantment outdoor exhibition is coordinated by Reiman Gardens. To ensure the highest quality exhibition, designs will be chosen by a panel of jurors which includes representatives from Reiman Gardens’ Art Collections Committee.

Please consider the following criteria for the design:

  • Creativity, imagination, environmentally friendly
    Choice of weather-resistant materials which will last the life of the event (one month)
  • Creative use of materials
  • Connection to themes of nature and spring
  • Engaging for the entire family
  • Durability of structure for weather
  • Flexibility to be at any chosen location in the Gardens

Guidelines & Responsibilities

The health and integrity of the plant materials in our collection are vital to our mission and institution. It is necessary to protect and maintain our collections by adhering to the following guidelines for construction and installation of all outdoor structures.

  • Fairy doors or creature homes must be original and suitable for outdoor display in adverse weather conditions (high winds, rain, heat, snow and freezing temperatures)
  • No hot glue of any kind can be used. Epoxy glue or mechanical attachment (nails, screws, etc.) is recommended to withstand outdoor display.
  • All finished fairy doors and creature homes must be sealed with varnish before installation.
  • Fairy doors or creature homes must be appropriate for viewing by visitors of all ages.
  • Fairy doors or creature homes must be no smaller than 12”x12”(x12”) and no larger than 20”x20”(x20”).
  • The site of the fairy door or creature home shall be chosen after consultation with, and the approval of, Reiman Gardens. A fairy door or creature home must be able to be installed on available sites, some in grassy areas, both sloping and flat. Final location is determined by Gardens’ staff.
  • Artists are responsible for all costs, equipment, and labor necessary beyond the stipend received. The Gardens’ staff will coordinate installation and removal.
  • It is the responsibility of the artist to deliver the fairy door or creature home to Reiman Gardens between March 15th and March 25th. After conclusion of the display, artists may pick up their fairy door or creature home between May 3rd and May 7th, 2023.
  • The Gardens are fenced and locked nightly. Reiman Gardens is not responsible for damage of the structures due to weather, vandalism, theft, or misuse by visitors.
  • The Spring Enchantment display will be accessible to the public daily during regular business hours 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from April 1st through April 30th, 2023.
  • The Gardens will promote the exhibit with planned events, Reiman Gardens’ website, media releases, paid advertising and calendar listings.

Reiman Gardens reserves the right to use any and all images, renderings, and models for the promotion of the exhibition in print or electronic formats.

Upon notification of selection, artists will be required to sign an Artist Agreement. Up to three entries per artist are accepted. After installation, public voting will begin for the People’s Choice Award.

Exhibition Schedule

Request for Proposals  October 1, 2022
Proposals due (please use attached application) January 10, 2023
Proposal Acceptance Notification  January 20, 2023
Signed Exhibitor Agreements January 30, 2023
Delivery of Fairy Door or Creature Home March 1-25th, 2023
Exhibit Opens to the Public April 1, 2023
Exhibit Closes April 30, 2023
Door/House pick-up by Artist May 3-7, 2023

Contact Information

Please direct all inquiries to: 
Sara Merritt, Art Collections Committee Chair at 515-294-1318 or

To Apply:

Please prepare each design submission in a PDF containing the following information:

  • Title (make it fun!)
  • Dimensions (HxWxD) – minimum 12”x12”(x12”), maximum 20”x20”(x20”)
  • Images (may include schematics, hand-drawn sketches, photographs, and/or detailed written descriptions).
  • General description of materials to be used
  • any additional details to support your design

Please save each submission without your name for jurying purposes. Label with this format: Design_1_Fairy-Door/Creature-Home

When ready, submit up to (3) design proposals here: