Travel enthusiasts everywhere share an insatiable thirst for adventure, and destinations across the globe offer countless opportunities to enrich and inspire. But one type of experience can take your art appreciation to the next level: the sculpture park. The first sculptures in the United States were Bible boxes and gravestones. Today, you can immerse yourself in the far more varied magnificence of three-dimensional art. Wander the grounds of these four incredible U.S. sculpture parks.
Modern Outdoor Sculpture at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, California
The J. Paul Getty Museum hosts a duo of open-air sculpture walks, connected by a short tram ride. You can stop by the Getty's extensive and engaging indoor exhibits or head straight to the outdoor spots. The collections masterfully integrate the existing architectural structures, the surrounding environment, and the creative genius from close to 30 artists.
Just down the hill from the museum is the Fran and Ray Stark Sculpture Garden, where definitive works are situated alongside beautifully cultivated gardens. The Stark Sculpture Terrace focuses on the evolution of figure representation in sculpture. It includes works by diverse British artists ranging from Elisabeth Frink to Henry Moore.
Neon Boneyard, Las Vegas, Nevada
With illuminated displays of iconic relics, Neon Boneyard is not your typical sculpture park ... or boneyard, for that matter. This electrified museum, founded in 1996, tells the tales of Sin City via its rescued neon signage. The result is a singular experience that's sure to light up your trip.
The main exhibit showcases more than 200 signs, with the oldest sign dating back to the 1930s. Park highlights include an incarnation of the Hard Rock Cafe Guitar, Aladdin's shimmering lamp, and the crimson emblem from the now-demolished Stardust Resort and Casino. In 2008, the museum installed Elvis Presley's star along their Electric Promenade donor walk, which leads from the Visitor's Center to the main exhibits at the Neon Boneyard. The park's entry signage, a clever collage of letters from famed and now-defunct signs, create a jackpot of American pop culture. The Neon Boneyard breathes new life into these vintage treasures, which still speak to the city's present-day culture.
Storm King, Cornwall, New York
Next time you're visiting Manhattan, head an hour north to Storm King Art Center, or Storm King as the locals know it. The museum is named after the eponymous mountain towering nearby. Since 1960, the site has amassed a growing collection of outdoor sculptures. It's reputed by some to be the country's largest collection. More than 500 expansive acres of land and art marry here and impart new insights upon an already picturesque natural landscape.
By hosting works from various schools of art, the museum continues to create an atmosphere where artists can actualize ambitious works. The park's stewards foster an appreciation for the land and its human-made embellishments. Must-see works include Alexander Calder's playful sculptures, Henry Moore's figurative statements, Sol LeWitt's geometric environments, and many additional site-specific earthworks. These otherworldly settings create a refreshing scene. They give visitors an opportunity to view, inspect, and sometimes even enter into the works of master sculptors in the splendor of a natural environment.
Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington
The Pacific Northwest invites you to partake in a visual feast, fashioned entirely in glass and featuring every color on the spectrum. At the Chihuly Garden and Glass, find yourself wandering amidst striking sculptural works forged by the master of glass himself, Dale Chihuly. The rich collection housed at the sculpture garden is anything but delicate.
This is a bold scene, one where brilliantly colorful forms seem to grow, undulate, and wildly erupt into larger-than-life delights. The sculptures marry the surrounding botanical greenery. Sometimes towering overhead, and sometimes at your toes, mysterious creature-like glass shapes create meandering paths and magical corridors to tread upon. The installations invite viewers to ponder the relationship between strength and fragility in this place where art and nature work together harmoniously. They present a truly spectacular scene.