Across the globe, sculpture parks present imposing works (and even ideas) that are too large to be contained within four walls. Set among manicured gardens and
natural beauty, man-made wonders create an unforgettable dissonance against Mother Nature’s canvas. On the next sunny day, forget the stuffy museums and take a stroll through these open-air galleries.
Storm King Art Center
Cornwall, New York
Less than a 2-hour train ride north of New York City, this sculpture park is full of modern works dating back to 1940. While strolling through the 500-acre park it’s easy to stumble across graceful Alexander Calder sculptures, or even a surprising, giant canoe painted by Roy Lichtenstein.
Parque de las Esculturas
When a flood wiped out a garden in the capital in 1982, local artists rebuilt the area as a combined sculpture park and botanical garden. Late at night, the park features a light installation, and on a clear day visitors can see the Andes Mountains.
Ekebergparken Sculpture Park
The area used for this sculpture park was once scattered with German anti-aircraft mines during World War II, but now is dotted with modernist features and lifelike metal sculptures of people. James Turrell’s “Skyspace,” one of dozens around the world, allows the changing light in the ceiling aperture to create a color show as spectacular as Norway’s northern lights.
Park of the Monsters
Commissioned by Prince Pier Francesco Orsini in 1552, Parco dei Mostri (Monster Park) is a ghoulish interpretation of the suffering Orsini endured after returning from the horrors of war, followed closely by the death of his wife. The park was a departure from the symmetrical and sculpted gardens of the time, creating a bizarre and haunting atmosphere in this open-air gallery.
A larger-than-life sculpture cemetery of former communist leaders, Memento Park in Budapest is a tongue-in-cheek sculpture park focusing on the fall of communism. A phone box allows you to travel back in time to listen to the voices of Stalin and Mao, among others.
Chapungu Sculpture Park
The sculpture garden in the capital city of Zimbabwe was created to highlight and elevate the work of traditional Zimbabwean stone sculptors. Founded before gaining independence (the country was formerly known as Rhodesia), the park now exports part of the exhibition to botanical gardens around the world to share the Zimbabwean traditional art form.
Constructed to look as though they were carved hundreds of years ago, the buddha statues inhabiting Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park) weren’t built until 1958. The sculptures were created by a priest-shaman and his students, none of whom were trained artists. The 200 oversized statues sit on the banks of the Mekong River and encapsulate Thai and Laotian culture through portrayals of both Buddhist and Hindu icons.
Hakone Open Air Museum
Japan’s first open-air museum consists of sculptures, gardens and interactive exhibits set against the backdrop of lush greenery. Children can climb inside clear cubes, and anyone can rest their feet in the trickling foot baths sourced from a local hot spring.
The Living Desert and Sculptures
Broken Hill, Australia
Opened in 1993, this park in central Australia features 12 sandstone carvings by artists from Georgia, Mexico, Syria and Australia. At sunset, the rocks light up, creating an eerie, magical effect only found in the Outback.