With most museums closed during the pandemic, Sculpture Parks and Gardens provide an alternative method of viewing art. Here, artists’ larger-than-life visions become real within an ever-evolving natural landscape.
Storm King allows its visitors to explore Momo Taro in all her glory through interactive art installations like Storm King. In these instances, art becomes a living experience that they can touch, climb upon, or touch and explore further than ever before.
Upstate New York
Art isn’t limited to museums (although New York City boasts some of the best); sculpture gardens and parks across each state allow you to experience artwork against a natural landscape. Rolling hills, manicured lawns, gorgeous blooms in spring and summer months, breathtaking foliage colors in fall seasons or snow-blanketed paths; all make ideal settings to experience sculpture with nature as its canvas.
The former Frick Estate in Hudson Valley boasts an outdoor museum that’s well worth your while: Isamu Noguchi’s Noguchi Museum offers both an open-air sculpture garden and enclosed gallery space where visitors can view his entire oeuvre.
Memorial Art Gallery’s Centennial Sculpture Park in Rochester combines museum exhibits with outdoor sculpture. This private collection by acclaimed artists and designers, including Tom Otterness’ Unicorn Family with three oversize cast iron unicorns and Wendell Castle’s Unicorn Bench are featured throughout its beautiful grounds – as are 17 miniature bronze figures that look similar to NYC subway station creatures such as muffler-pipe creatures.
Opus 40, created by Harvey Fite after 37 years studying ancient Mayan and Aztec culture at Bard College alum Harvey Fite’s 6.5-acre blue stone sculpture is an attraction many visitors love visiting; visitors who want more interactive outdoor art experience find this piece particularly impressive. It takes visitors on a journey across its surface allowing for exploration beyond paintings or photographs alone.
Although Art Omi offers plenty of sculptures that are dark and mysterious, other projects at Art Omi feature brighter and more lively projects – from Dan Colen’s colorful M&Ms to Will Ryman’s Pac-Man maze and Hou de Sousa’s prismatic forms; each project at Art Omi offers something truly distinctive that will spark your imagination!
Are you in central New York and want to stretch your legs while enjoying sculptures with stunning views? Head to Cazenovia Sculpture Park’s 104 hilltop acres – featuring more than 100 sculptures that are free for public access all year round from dawn until dusk! Additionally, it has an ideal nature trail perfect for hiking and strolling with the whole family!
The Tarot Garden
Located in Garavicchio in southern Tuscany, The Tarot Garden is an artistic kaleidoscope where your imagination and artistic engagement collide. Conceived by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle as an expression of her fascination for Tarot cards’ symbolic and esoteric significance, this monumental work took seventeen years to complete and represents her pinnacle work – 22 major arcana are represented as steel and concrete sculptures covered with mirrors, colored glass tiles and ceramic pieces representing them all – as colossal steel sculptures covered by mirrors as well as mirrors covered steel sculptures covered by mirrors, colored glass tiles and ceramic tiles coverings that cover even these surfaces!
Saint Phalle took inspiration from Antoni Gaudi’s Parc Guell in Barcelona to design her Tarot Garden as a platform to express her creativity and imagination. She designed and fabricated each statue herself before recruiting artists, craftspeople and workers to help complete it according to her design. Saint Phalle used iron, cement, polyester resin reinforcement concrete mirrors mosaic as building materials in her garden – while her colorful paint job invoked memories of great chromatic masterpieces from Matisse to Kandinsky!
The Tarot Garden was the artist’s spiritual and magical dream come true, starting in 1974 while recovering from pulmonary abscess in St. Moritz in Switzerland and reconnecting with Marella Agnelli (wife of industrialist Gianni Agnelli). While discussing her obsession with fantasy gardens with Marella Agnelli (wife of Gianni Agnelli), both women offered her land in Tuscany so the Tarot Garden project became reality.
Saint Phalle collaborated with many esteemed contemporary artists – including her husband Jean Tinguely – when creating The Tarot Garden, using some of her own money as part of its financing.
Saint Phalle filled her frame with original and distinctive figurative sculptures inspired by elements of her own personal life and her experience with sexual abuse as a child. One such work, The Empress, features an enormous figure containing an entire house. Other statues depict her relationship with her mother as well as sexual abuse she experienced as a child.
The Tarot Garden is an enchanting destination to visit with children. The colorful statues provide hours of engaging play for youngsters as they touch enormous sculptures such as The Empress and climb inside mysterious figures – providing both fun and educational entertainment that could inspire future artists and designers.
Brookgreen Gardens are more than moss-draped oaks and colorful rose bushes; this National Historic Landmark houses one of the world’s largest collections of American figurative sculpture, an aquarium and wildlife preserve in addition to being an incredible zoo! At 9,127 acres in size they also boast miles of nature trails and ecosystems to discover!
Anna and Archer Huntington established the gardens in 1931. Once four colonial-era rice plantations, today the gardens have evolved into an incredible horticultural oasis housing incredible bronze sculptures set among stunning landscapes. Over time, over 430 artists have contributed pieces, increasing to an astounding collection of over 2000 pieces from this beautiful spot that offers both cultural and historical significance for visitors alike.
The gardens are more than a static display of art – they’re living museums that constantly evolve and present new exhibitions to visitors. Each season brings visitors can see different displays and visit three galleries situated throughout this breathtaking garden. Night of a Thousand Candles, an annual event where all park areas are lit with candle-lit lanterns, is perhaps its most well-known exhibit.
This year the gardens will host a special exhibit that honors both art and nature at the park – Wild World: 200 Years of Nature in Art will open on February 27 and run through May 23.
The exhibition will explore how natural themes have been depicted throughout art history, with particular attention paid to plants and animals that have inspired various works of art. It will take place at Brookgreen Gardens’ Rosen Galleries.
For anyone eager to gain more insight into the history and heritage of South Carolina’s Lowcountry Garden and Wildlife Museum is an ideal starting point. Visitors can gain knowledge about local plants and animals as well as gain an in-depth view into Gullah Geechee communities like Gullah Geechee.
Cold Hollow Sculpture Park
Next time you visit northern Vermont, don’t miss Cold Hollow Sculpture Park. Park behind the barn that serves as visitor’s center and pick up a map of its property; from there, walk along its many mown paths criss-crossing hayfields leading from one sculpture to the next – free entry and open year-round from dawn until dusk!
David Stromeyer first purchased the land over 50 years ago with the sole intention of creating sculptures, opting for its topographical features and its ability to accommodate his experimental process of form, material and function experimentation. His sculptures create an immersive environment far removed from dairy farming that once occurred along Boston Post Road.
Stromeyer first began working with steel as an art student, drawn to its strength and durability as well as its plasticity for creating shapes that morph together seamlessly. At Cold Hollow Park his sculptures demonstrate this plasticity perfectly – conversing with their environment as well as each other and visitors – creating an eerily peaceful ambience in which to work.
Although it is privately owned non-profit, the park is open to the public since 2014 and hosts various events throughout the year. Visitors can learn more about its sculptural collection by taking guided tours during summer months or booking private tours throughout the year.
Stromeyer also hopes to connect the park with local networks of farming, arts and dialogue in the near future. He envisions residency programs, visiting sculpture rotations and convergences of writers and artists that would expand its horizons further. These concepts could easily be replicated elsewhere as we emerge from COVID-19 pandemic and rediscover nature’s creative impulses as part of our collective consciousness.