BESTHOFF SCULPTURE GARDEN
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
A true gem in City Park, the New Orleans Museum of Art’s sculpture garden showcases 90 stunning artworks from around the world in an 11-acre landscape of magnolias and live oaks bisected by a two-acre lagoon.
Start your visit in the original five-acre garden, opened in 2003, where art and nature harmonize as sculptures punctuate meandering footpaths and swaths of lawn. The 60-plus pieces include classic works such as Pierre Auguste Renoir’s bronze Venus Victrix (1914) as well as contemporary sculptures, including the playful 1999 Corridor Pin, Blue by Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg, a towering stainless steel and aluminum safety pin with its blue top planted firmly on the ground and its open pin suspended over the pathway.
Cross the canal link bridge, a walkway that dips along a retaining wall to deliver the disorienting sensation of walking below the water, to arrive in the $16 million 2019 expansion. Here, 27 pieces of contemporary art dominate a landscape of native plants such as palmetto, Louisiana iris, and bald cypress.
Vinales, a 60-foot-long ceramic mosaic mural by inspired artist Teresita Fernánd’s memories of her childhood in rural Cuba, forms an exterior wall of the garden’s 5,000-square-foot indoor Sculpture Pavilion. The free sculpture garden and pavilion are open daily.
GROUNDS FOR SCULPTURE
HAMILTON, NEW JERSEY
Sculptor Seward Johnson, who passed away in March at the age of 89, was famous for his hyper-realistic, intricately painted life-size bronze statues. An heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune, the artist used his personal wealth to create this 42-acre sculpture park, museum, and arboretum, which opened in 1992 on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds. Featuring works by Johnson along with pieces by other contemporary artists, both renowned and emerging, the grounds are home to more than 300 sculptures positioned in a meticulous landscape dotted with thousands of exotic trees and flowers. From flower-sewn meadows to woodlands and themed spaces like the thorn-ridden Pain Garden, the gardens are indeed Grounds for Sculpture.
Many of Johnson’s pieces bring familiar paintings to life, such as God Bless America, a 25-foot-tall work that pays homage to Grant Wood’s 1930s painting American Gothic.
In addition to the outdoor art, six indoor galleries showcase work by established and emerging artists. Rat’s Restaurant is open year-round, and reservations are usually necessary. Named for a character in the children’s book The Wind in the Willows, the country French restaurant is yet another work of art—its rustic chateau setting looks like a scene from a Monet painting.
Purchase dated and timed tickets online in advance for a self-guided garden visit.
CORNWALL, NEW YORK
Rising 28 feet out of the leafy Hudson Valley countryside, sculptor Zhang Huan’s immense Three Legged Buddha stands squarely in the crosshairs of whimsy and wow. As if the sight of the half-buried head of the revered religious figure emerging from the ground wasn’t surprising enough, add in the hovering three-legged bottom half of the Buddha balancing on his disconnected head and two metal towers, and this outdoor assemblage of copper and steel just got mighty interesting.
Welcome to New York’s monumental outdoor museum, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Stretched over 500 gorgeous acres, Storm King is just an hour north of Manhattan. Named for the mountain peak five miles to the east, the outdoor museum features a dizzying diversity of more than 100 large-scale modern and contemporary sculptures from the likes of Alexander Calder and Richard Serra and pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.
The dramatic way the art fits into the setting is not accidental. The late landscape architect Bill Rutherford Sr. was the brilliant mind behind the communion between art and terra firma. Visitors can explore by foot (wear comfy shoes) or bicycle and there are also accessible trams, with priority given to those with restricted mobility and young children.