Fifteen years after the controversial Sonsbeek beyond the boundaries, the International sculpture exhibition Sonsbeek ’86 was considerably smaller. This time, most of the sculptures were placed in Park Sonsbeek, and about half of them were made specifically for the exhibition. Another part of the exhibition was located in the Gemeentemuseum Arnhem. The artistic director of Sonsbeek '86 was the curator Saskia Bos. While the artworks in the park in Sonsbeek '71 were made for a specific location, many of the works in Sonsbeek '86 were not designed to withstand the outdoors. This time, most of the artworks were placed in one of three specially designed glass pavilions that intentionally resembled greenhouses. As Bos wrote in the introduction: “Because more than ever before, the artworks are now artificial products that do not adapt to nature, let alone merge with it”.
Because of the pavilions, most of the artworks were isolated from the park, and therefore were also isolated from reality and everyday life. Their isolation meant that these artworks were not only more static and perhaps more artificial, but also more autonomous. The attention of the viewer was drawn to the works themselves (and to the idea of ”art for art’s sake”). In so doing, Bos placed the emphasis on artworks that could cause confusion due to their distinctive skins. Yet other sculptures were considerably less mysterious. In short, Sonsbeek '86 created an image of divergent developments in contemporary sculpture. Some of the artworks could be described as “museum art”, while others “merged” with Park Sonsbeek.