There are two primary ways to see sculptures made by famous artists: within the walls of a museum and in sculpture gardens, and some of the most renown art institutions in the world feature both. Always a special place for institutions that have one, museum sculpture gardens vary based on history, culture, climate, objectives, available space, an urban or a country context.
Open-air semi-permanent of permanent galleries, often of outstanding quality, these places offer visitors an opportunity to interact with the collection throughout the whole year in a completely different way than is possible in a museum or gallery where one is often physically separated from the art on display. In a museum sculpture garden, you can walk right up to sculptures and, most often, touch them.
We take you on a journey throughout some of the most fascinating museum sculpture gardens around the world.
Featured image: Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Garden. Images via Wikimedia Commons.
The Sculpture Garden of The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark offers panoramic views of the Sound, allowing the visitors to explore, get lost and find calm. It is a home for around 60 sculptures from the museum’s collection, some of which are remarkable and easily distinguished, while others are almost hidden or blending into the surroundings in an almost mysterious way.
Make sure to visit this magnificent gallery garden and discover its stunning collection comprised of works by by Alexander Calder, Max Ernst, Richard Serra, Joan Miro, Henry Moore, Jean Dubuffet and Jean Arp, just to name a few.
Featured images: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, View of Max Ernst works; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, View of Jean Dubuffet work; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, View of the Calder-terrace, seen here are Calder's works Almost Snow Plow 1964/76 (left) and the mobile Little Janey-Waney, 1964-76 (right). Images via louisiana.dk.
Occupying approximately eleven acres in City Park adjacent to The New Orleans Museum of Modern Art, The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is an atypical place located within a mature existing landscape of pines, magnolias and live oaks surrounding two lagoons. It includes more than 90 sculptures tucked away within this picturesque landscape.
Featured images: New Orleans Museum of Art Sculpture Garden; New Orleans Museum of Art Sculpture Garden in City Park, New Orleans, View of Antione Bourdelle's Hercules the Archer from 1909. Images via Wikimedia Commons.
With 11 landscaped acres showcasing more than 40 artworks, the Sculpture Garden of The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis unites two locally cherished resources: parks and culture. A partnership between the Walker and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, it brings together renowned collections of modern and contemporary art in the setting of an urban park.
The outdoor gallery features works by generations of artists from 10 different countries, many of them site-specific and made especially for this public park. Among them are Hahn/Cock by Katharina Fritsch, Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg, Octopus by Alexander Calder, Salute to Painting by Roy Lichtenstein, Three x Four x Three by Sol LeWitt and Down Tree by Louise Nevelson.
An award-winning nine-acre sculpture park located on the waterfront, The Olympic Sculpture Park by The Seattle Art Museum is the city's largest downtown green space. It offers monumental contemporary sculptures and breathtaking views of the Space Needle, Olympic Mountains, and Puget Sound.
The outdoor gallery design creates a continuous constructed landscape for art, forms an uninterrupted Z-shaped "green" platform, and descends 40 feet from the city to the water. Take a tour through the works of artists such as Beverly Pepper, Alexander Calder, Tony Smith, Ellsworth Kelly and Louise Bourgeois.
Nestled on nearly three acres, The Baltimore Museum of Art has two sculpture gardens - Janet and Alan Wurtzburger Sculpture Garden and Ryda and Robert H. Levi Sculpture Garden, together featuring 33 masterworks of modern and contemporary sculpture.
Located amidst a beautiful flagstone terrace and fountain, Janet and Alan Wurtzburger Sculpture Garden presents 19 early modernist works by artists such as Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, Auguste Rodin and Max Bill.
The adjoining two-acre Ryda and Robert H. Levi Sculpture Garden is comprised of sloping garden paths and lush foliage, surrounding a collection of 14 artworks from the latter half of the 20th century by artists such as Anthony Caro, Joan Miró, Louise Nevelson, José Ruiz de Rivera, Michael Heizer, Ellsworth Kelly and Tony Smith.
Featured image: The Baltimore Museum of Art Sculpture Garden, via irmiller.
Tate's The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in St Ives, UK offers a remarkable insight into the work and outlook of one of Britain’s most important twentieth-century artists. Located in Hepworth's former Trewyn studios, the Sculpture Garden features sculptures in bronze, stone and wood. The garden was laid out by the artist herself with help from a friend, the composer Priaulx Rainier and most of the bronzes are in the positions in which she placed them.
Among works in this outdoor gallery are Vertical Form (St Ives) from 1968, cast 1969, Two Forms (Divided Circle) from 1969, Stringed Figure (Curlew), Version II from 1959, Four-Square (Walk Through) from 1966, and Figure for Landscape from 1959–60.
Featured images: The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, via Sykes Cottages; The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, via Andy Turner; The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, via Tom Parnell.
Located in Otterlo, Netherlands, The Kröller-Müller Museum has one of the largest sculpture gardens in Europe. An outdoor viewing space measuring 25 hectares, it features over 160 modern sculptures in a natural setting.
Here you will find pieces from artists such as Aristide Maillol, Jean Dubuffet, Marta Pan, and Pierre Huyghe, dotted around the garden. The garden is also adorned by two pavilions, by Aldo van Eyck and by Gerrit Rietveld - architectural gems from the 1960s that were given a new home here.
Featured images: The Kröller-Müller Sculpture Garden, Duck by Marta Pan; Kröller-Müller Sculpture Garden, Rocky Lumps by Tom Claassen; Kröller-Müller Sculpture Garden. Images via Wikimedia Commons.
A contemplative haven in the heart of Washington, The Hirshhorn Museum’s Sculpture Garden provides the perfect setting for a collection of modern sculpture that, at the time it was opened in 1974, was said to be “without parallel in the world.” Dating from the 1880s through the present, the sculptures on display differ in subject, style, and material, showcasing not only the complexity and diversity of international modern sculpture but also the richness of The Hirshhorn’s collection.
Featured images: Hirshhorn Museum’s Sculpture Garden; Hirshhorn Museum’s Sculpture Garden, Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama; Hirshhorn Museum’s Sculpture Garden, Alexander Calder. Images via hirshhorn.si.edu.
Located in Paris, The Musée Rodin welcomes over 700,000 visitors every year. Stretching over three hectares, the grounds of its Sculpture Garden is pierced by three openings, reflecting the design and proportions of the three-bay windows on Hôtel Biron’s garden façade.
Two thematic walks were also laid out: in the east, plants thrive amidst the rockery in the Garden of Orpheus, and, in the west, water is omnipresent in the Garden of Springs. The Space is home to some of the most acclaimed sculptures by Auguste Rodin, such as The Thinker, The Burghers of Calais, The Gates of Hell, and Orpheus.
Featured images: Musée Rodin Garden, The Thinker by Auguste Rodin; Musée Rodin Garden, The Three Shades by Auguste Rodin; Musée Rodin Garden. Images via Wikimedia Commons.