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Future Water Garden to honor Ann Dunham, be graced by Maya Lin sculpture


August 1, 2022

Today is special for many reasons. Not only is it President Obama’s 61st birthday, but we’re thrilled to celebrate with two exciting announcements.

First, we’re launching the Obama alumni campaign to fund the Water Garden at the Obama Presidential Center that will be named in honor of the President’s mother, Ann Dunham. And this beautiful space will feature a stunning new work created by one of the President’s favorite artists, Maya Lin.

Ann Dunham was the biggest influence on President Obama’s life. She believed strongly in the power of human connection and the inherent dignity in all of us, values she instilled in her children. Decades later, a commitment to those same values would inspire millions of Americans to join a movement that carried President Obama to the White House.

The Water Garden will honor Ann Dunham’s life and legacy, making her name forever a part of the Obama Presidential Center experience. But to make it even more iconic, the Water Garden will include a stone sculptural water feature from world renowned artist and architect, Maya Lin–best known for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

A person wearing a hoodie with the hood up is shown in profile, crouching down to light a candle. She is seen in profile in the glow of candlelight coming from dozens of votives surrounded by assorted flowers. A set of small votive candles are arranged in the shape of a heart near the person’s foot. Six heart-shaped red balloons float above the vigil.

The Ann Dunham Water Garden will be a special place–where families can enjoy a quiet moment of reflection, children can go for a splash through the water fountain, and the community can come together for intimate performances.

It’s part of a growing collection of named spaces at the Obama Presidential Center including the Marian Robinson “Opening the White House” exhibit, the Eleanor Roosevelt Fruit & Vegetable Garden, and the Hadiya Pendleton Winter Garden.

We’re excited for you to enjoy them all.


Valerie Jarrett

Chief Executive Officer, Obama Foundation