This fall, getting culture outdoors is even more restorative than usual. Here are some options across the country.
Many museums and galleries across the country have cautiously begun to reopen in recent weeks, offering a chance for the culture-starved to enjoy a moment of reprieve with their favourite works of art. Still the lines can be long, and timed ticketing limits a more impulsive visit.
These seven sculpture gardens or outdoor art spaces — ranging from world-class art collections to more hidden and eccentric destinations — are especially appealing beginning this month, when the weather is ideal for strolling outside and the fall programming and curatorial programs (some of them delayed from closings this summer) begin in earnest.
Grounds for Sculpture
This 42-acre park and museum was founded by the American artist Seward Johnson, with the hope of promoting a better understanding of contemporary sculpture. Close to 300 works by artists such as Beverly Pepper, Kiki Smith, Anthony Caro, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Austin Wright populate the grounds where natural woodlands, ponds and bamboo groves are set alongside paved terraces, pergolas and courtyards where the occasional peacock may make an appearance. Included, of course, are several of Johnson’s own pop-art-inflected, larger-than-life figures. Families with children under 12 can purchase an Art Box — a beginner’s sculpture kit — in advance of their visit. Don’t miss the recently installed show “Rebirth,” composed of six works made from steel elevator cables by the Taiwanese sculptor Kang Muxiang.
Storm King Art Center
Named after Storm King Mountain located along the Hudson River and built on what now encompasses 500 acres, this open-air museum is home to some of the best contemporary and mid-20th-century sculpture. Works from artists such as Alexander Calder, Richard Serra and Louise Bourgeois have been carefully installed in relation to the landscape, where at every turn you encounter stunning vistas, especially as leaves begin to change. Seven undulating rows sculpted into the land itself. Part of the appeal of Storm King is its excellently curated exhibition program. This fall there are two new outdoor works inspired by the local landscape: an installation of Kiki Smith’s large-scale flag textiles and Martha Tuttle’s cairns. Visitors must book ahead online. Timed-entry tickets are released in two-week blocks every Wednesday; $20 each for the first two people in a car. The museum is offering free admission this year to front line medical workers, active military and their families and others.
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
The country’s premier sculpture gardens, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is open to the public from 6 a.m. to midnight, with more than 60 works of art across 19 campus acres — all free. Though most visitors are drawn to the garden’s inaugural center piece, “Spoonbridge and Cherry,” by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, there are many other important works of art from artists like Sol Lewitt, Eva Rothschild and James Turrell. The gardens underwent an extensive renovation. Pieces from contemporary artists such as Theaster Gates and Katherina Fritsch were added, and a former wetland was restored and planted with native flora to help feed essential and imperiled pollinators such as monarch butterflies and bees. The garden is an ongoing collaboration between the city’s parks department and the Walker Art Center, which, through a ticketed and timed system, is also now open to the public.