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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Outdoor Sculpture Garden

In my last blog post on Anna Hyatt Huntington, I mentioned how she and her husband established Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina.  Sculpture gardens, popular at museum sites, are also destinations of their own.

In the tour guide “A Guide to the Sculpture Parks & Gardens of America” the authors note in the introduction the historical significance of Brookgreen Gardens in the establishment of outdoor sculpture gardens:

“Sculpture gardens as we know them today originated with Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina in 1931. Brookgreen, the legacy of sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, was built by her wealthy husband Archer to display her works and those of artists who were steeped in classical tradition.”

However, a new need for sculpture gardens emerged in the latter half of the century.

“A driving force for creating new sculpture gardens is the need for large, open spaces to display massive contemporary sculpture. These new works cannot be shown to their best advantage within the confines of the museums.  Thus, museums and universities increasingly look to their grounds as ideal locations to present modern, oversized works.”

This brings us to my favorite sculpture park: Storm King in Mountainville, New York, which opened in 1960.

“Storm King is the second oldest large-scale sculpture park in the country, after Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina. The founders took as a model Sir William Keswick’s sheep farm in Glenkin, Scotland, which is home to many Henry Moore sculptures.”

A few years ago my father and I strolled the grounds (500 acres in total!), which are bordered on one side by Andy Goldsworthy’s 2,278 foot long stone Storm King Wall. The other sculptures we saw were by major artists such as Alexander Calder, Richard Serra, Mark di Suervo, David Smith, and Isamu Noguchi, among others.  For my father and I, it was a truly magnificent experience to experience this art in a natural setting that lent space and respect to the massive contemporary sculptures.

You can search for artworks in both the Brookgreen Gardens and Storm King Art Center collections in the Inventory of American Sculpture.

Do you have a favorite sculpture garden? 

Images: Anna Hyatt Huntington, The Young Diana, at Brookgreen Gardens, American Sculpture Photograph Study Collection, American Art Museum (S0001338)

Source:  McCarthy, Jane and Laurily K. Epstein, "A Guide to the Sculpture Parks and Gardens of America," New York: Michael Kesend Pub., 1996. In Smithsonian Libraries 

-Nicole Semenchuk, Research and Scholars Center, American Art Museum


  1. I have been to so many sculpture parks it is hard to pick just one favorite. Yorkshire Sculpture Park ranks very high. Check out the free International Directory of Sculpture Parks & Gardens if you want to see more. We have a gallery of images from around the world and over 500 listings. Happy viewing.

  2. Sculpture gardens are outdoor gardens devoted to sculpture presentation, usually numerous permanently-sited works made of durable supplies in surroundings that are landscaped. Sculpture gardens can be private, possessed by museum and freely accessible or for fees, or can be public and reachable to all. Several cities possess big numbers of community sculpture some of them are presented together in the parks of the city.