Michigan Roadside Attractions: The Hart Tin Man

Michigan Roadside Attractions: The Hart Tin Man

Hart Tin Man Sculpture Bill Secunda Michigan

Michigan Roadside Attractions on Travel the Mitten highlights our attempts to explore the many interesting things that can be found on the highways, byways and back roads of Michigan, ranging from the interesting to the unusual.

Hart is the county seat for Oceana County, a paradise of sand dunes, lakes, and rich agricultural heritage. The small town of just over 2,000 residents recently added a great piece of art to their downtown and on a recent visit to the area we had to stop and check it out. The Hart Tin Man is a 24 foot tall steel sculpture by artist Bill Secunda, and it may look familiar to those who have been regulars at ArtPrize the last few years. As the tin man is always looking for his heart, it seems fitting that this new sculpture has found a home in Hart!

Hart Tin Man Michigan Sculpture

Secunda had a similar sculpture outside the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids during ArtPrize in 2021 (that one now has a home in the Upper Peninsula at Marquette Mountain), and it inspired community leaders to perhaps bring a similar sculpture to Hart as part of an ongoing initiative to add 25 art installations to the area by 2025. You may also remember Secunda from his moose made out of nails (5th place, ArtPrize 2009) and his 2022 ArtPrize entry of two bears made out of nails and railroad spikes (now on display at the Saginaw Children’s Zoo). The tin man arrived in Hart in June of last year, coinciding with the 50th annual National Asparagus Festival.

Hart Tin Man Oceana County Information Bill Secunda

A plaque in front of the sculpture reads: “The Tin Woodsman or “Tin Man” has deep roots in European and American history, as it often appeared in cartoons of the 1880s and 1890s. The tin Woodsman is described as a worker, partially dehumanized by industrialization. The Tin Woodsman little by little lost his natural body and had it replaced by metal; in extension, he has lost his heart and cannot move without the help of farmers (represented by the Scarecrow). In reality, he has a strong sense of cooperation and love, which needs only an infusion of confidence and support to be awakened. In the 1890s many argued that to secure a revolution in industry and agriculture, a coalition of Farmers and Workers was needed. This is why the tinman looks at home in Hart, Michigan, Oceana County, where he found his Heart.”

Hart Commons Tin Man Sculpture Michigan

The Hart Tin Man can be found in Hart Commons overlooking the lake. There is a great outdoor amphitheater here for summer concerts, and a former parking lot has been turned into an excellent spot for small businesses with several little sheds that can be rented out.