5 Must-Visit Sculpture Parks in the US

Posted by Fodor's Guest Blogger on September 27, 2012 at 5:37:31 PM EDT | Post a Comment

By Suemedha Sood

Beautifully designed gardens weave together with breathtaking works of art in sculpture parks across the country. These parks, where stunning sculptures rise from the ground like the impressive trees that surround them, are some of the best places to experience the art of nature and the art of man merging together.

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Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park

Skokie, Illinois

In Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park, located just 30 minutes north of Chicago, the "Donor Tree" or "Giving Tree" is a lovely painted steel sculpture embodying the park's devotion to finding art in nature. Designed by Chicago artist Joseph Folise, the tree commemorates everyone who has donated money to make the park the destination it is today. And what a destination it is. Stretching out over two miles, the park showcases more than 60 sculptures by artists from around the world—remarkable, large-scale, modern pieces incorporating materials ranging from concrete to clay to wood to steel chains.

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Olympic Sculpture Park

Seattle, Washington

Perhaps one of the best known sculpture parks in the world, Olympic Sculpture Park was built over nine acres, formerly home to an industrial site. Tour the grounds' unique contemporary works, such as Louise Bourgeois's giant eye sculptures which double as benches and Alexander Calder's famous red eagle statue. The experience of viewing such artwork in an outdoor setting is made extraordinary by the surrounding scenery, that of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

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Storm King Art Center

Mountainville, NY

Alexander Calder's work also graces the sculpture gardens of Storm King Art Center, which span 500 acres of lovely green space in upstate New York's Hudson Valley. The park offers bike rentals for those wishing to tour the grounds in an especially active manner. If meandering through the entire park sounds better, opt for the gardens' tram, which runs every 30 minutes. Be sure to visit the massive and spectacular statue Three Legged Buddha, by Chinese artist Zhang Huan, which depicts the Buddha's body and three legs seemingly balancing on his head, planted into the earth.

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Brookgreen Gardens

Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

Even more expansive than Storm King is the sculpture park at Brookgreen Gardens, on South Carolina's coast, which features about 1,500 pieces scattered over 300 acres. Built on a former rice plantation in 1931, the Brookgreen Gardens property is also home to a wildlife and nature sanctuary. Visitors are far more likely to encounter traditional, realistic figures rather than abstract sculptures in the sculpture garden here.

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Coral Castle Museum

Miami, Florida

A very different kind of sculpture garden can be found at Coral Castle Museum, in the art-loving city of Miami. The garden is adorned by carved coral rock sculptures, all built by artist Edward Leedskalnin from 1923 to 1951. The site has the distinction of having been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. From functional pieces, like coral rock tables and benches, to abstract statues, to Stonehenge-like structures, Leedskalnin's outdoor collection is truly unique.

Need a little more culture?

Head to Vegas to check out the newly (sort of) opened Neon Museum; go gallery hopping in Cape Town's coolest 'hood: Woodstock; and go see these Mayan ruins before the "end of the world" hits in December.

Photo Credits: Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park: Courtesy of Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park; Olympic Sculpture Park: @ Olympic Sculpture Park by ~C4ChaosC4 Attribution License; Storm King Art Center: Liberman at Storm King by Steven Severinghaus Attribution License; Brookgreen Gardens: BrookGreen Gardens by Zane Hollingsworth Attribution-NoDerivs License; Coral Castle Museum: Courtesy of Coral Castle Museum

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