Photo by andre-quinou / Shutterstock
Picturesque, serene and romantic, sculpture parks capture the perfect blend of nature and art.
Majestic displays of works of art in nature have been around for hundreds of years. According to Artsy, in the 16th Century Henry VIII famously enhanced his gardens at Nonsuch Palace in Surrey, England with sculptures inspired by Greek mythology. Towards the end of the 17th Century, Louis XIV grandly decorated the expansive grounds of Versailles with more than 200 sculptures constructed from lead, bronze and marble. Nowadays, sculpture parks around the world showcase a diverse range of works, including both contemporary sculptures and historic pieces. To commemorate what was once prized by kings and queens, we’ve rounded up some of the best sculpture parks in the world.
KRÖLLER-MÜLLER MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN – Otterlo, Netherlands
With more than 180 drawings and almost 90 paintings, the Kröller-Müller Museum and Sculpture Garden in Otterlo, Netherlands, is home to the world’s second-largest collection of works from famed Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. The property consists of a more-than-60-acre sculpture garden that also includes works by Jean Dubuffet, Lucio Fontana and Pierre Huyghe.
One of Europe’s largest sculpture gardens, Kröller-Müller offers guests inviting spaces for relaxation or picnicking and scenic pathways for strolling or running. If you get hungry while touring this magnificent sculpture garden, stop in at Monsieur Jacques restaurant located inside the museum for a delicious entrée or mouthwatering sweet treat like apple pie with whipped cream or the Tony Chocolonely chocolate bar.
Photo by Jerry L Thompson
STORM KING ART CENTER – Windsor, NY
Within daytrip distance of New York City, the Storm King Art Center in Windsor, NY, consists of peaceful hills and open fields dotted with monumental sculptures by Isamu Noguchi, Mark di Suvero, Nam June Paik, and others. More than 100 works line the sprawling 500 acres of Storm King. With its heralded temporary exhibitions and family-friendly public programming, Storm King strives to foster an appreciation for sculpture and enrich the local community. When visiting this sculpture garden, don’t miss the Highlights Tour departing from the Museum Building daily at 1 p.m.
YORKSHIRE SCULPTURE PARK – Wakefield, United Kingdom
Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield, United Kingdom, opened in 1977. Its 500-acre country estate, resplendent with wooded areas, dirt paths and scattered trees, boasts approximately 80 sculptures and installations from the likes of British artists such as Henry Moore, Antony Gormley and Mark Quinn. International artists including James Turrell and Jaume Plensa are also featured. Before enjoying a leisurely day meandering the expansive property, order a picnic basket from the YSP Restaurant.
LOUGH BOORA DISCOVERY PARK – Boora, Ireland
The Lough Boora bogland in Boora, Ireland was settled by Mesolithic peoples an estimated 10,000 years ago. Within the Lough Boora Discovery Park, five main trails traverse more than 30 miles of pristine lakes, wetlands, and grasslands. The 24 works that call the Lough Boora Discovery Park home are constructed from industrial and natural materials from the bog region including railway tracks, stone and wood. Through either plant growth or weathering, they’ve been stunningly transformed by their environment. When touring this sculpture park, be sure to visit nearby Birr Castle. The breathtakingly beautiful castle contains amazing parkland, terraces and gardens.
Photo by Christine Hellyar
CONNELLS BAY SCULPTURE PARK – Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Nestled on gorgeous Waiheke Island, Connells Bay Sculpture Park consists of around 25 sculptures created by some of New Zealand’s leading artists. The works, including Jeff Thomson’s “Three Cows Looking Out to Sea,” are arranged across farmland among numerous native trees. This sculpture park is open from October to April. To extend your visit book a quaint, private room at The Guest Cottage on the property.
CHIANTI SCULPTURE PARK – Pievasciata SI, Italy
At Chianti Sculpture Park in Pievasciata SI, Italy, you’ll discover tree stumps carved in marble, a glass labyrinth and the ribs of a ship, along with other works along a woodland trail in the Tuscan hills. The pieces of art have been cleverly created to harmonize with the light, color and trees around them.
If visiting Chianti Sculpture Park in July or August, don’t miss the weekly Tuesday night concert. The intimate, romantic concerts are held in the property’s amphitheater and feature classical, opera, jazz, tango and other styles of music.
REFUGE D’ART – Digne-les-Bains, France
The Refuge d’Art in Digne-les-Baines, France, is a paradise for both hiking and art lovers alike. Nestled high in the mountains, walkers can take in stunning scenery and a series of works by British land artist Andy Goldsworthy. Along the 100 miles of ancient paths, Goldsworthy constructed three stone cairns, or “Sentinelles.” He also renovated multiple overnight shelters in deserted buildings where he added artwork in each one. Touring the Refuge d’Art takes roughly five days. Before visiting this massive sculpture park, contact local company Etoile Rando for a guided tour.