Outdoor art spaces that are now open for socially-distanced summer enjoyment

En Plein Air

Outdoor art spaces that are now open for socially-distanced summer enjoyment

Horse and Rider by Charles Ray on the grounds of the Glenstone, a contemporary art museum outside of Washington, D.C. (Ron Cogswell/Flickr)

Over the past several weeks, a modest of trickle of museums and cultural institutions have slowly and cautiously begun to reopen their doors with coronavirus safety measures firmly in place while others announce tentative plans to reopen later this summer or in the fall. Others remain shuttered indefinitely. For those who aren’t quite ready to venture indoors in the (limited) company of fellow museum-goers, standalone sculpture parks and outdoor art spaces affiliated with museums remain a viable alfresco option in which social distancing is perhaps made a bit easier. Plus, these spaces are a great way to enjoy beautiful summer weather and get some exercise while easing back into public places that aren’t the local pharmacy or supermarket.

Similar to indoor museums, however, not every sculpture park and outdoor art space across the board has reopened or announced a reopening date—like with all coronavirus-related restrictions, it all really depends on geography along with other factors. Just north of New York City in the Hudson Valley, for example, Art Omi is currently open to visitors at a smaller capacity than normal while just 90 minutes south, the perennially popular Storm King Art Center remains closed until further notice. Many of these now-open spaces have adjusted operating hours and rules and restrictions (i.e. shuttered cafes and restrooms) to keep in mind before heading out.

Below is just a sampling of sculpture parks and outdoor art spaces currently open across the country. We will continue to add to this list as other major venues reopen or partially reopen their grounds.

Art Omi—Ghent, New York

Spread across 120 acres, Art Omi, a sculpture and architecture park in Columbia County, New York, is now open daily from dawn to dusk although all indoor facilities are closed and public programming has been cancelled until further notice. To prevent an unsafe influx of visitors, parking is extremely limited. For those who do manage to snag a spot, face coverings will be required in the parking lot and on trails (if passing other visitors.) Art Omni also requests that visitors practice social distancing and refrain from touching surfaces. Currently on display are works by Nari Ward, Steven Holl, Robert Grosvenor, Virginia Overton, Sarah Braman, and David Shrigley, among many others.

Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art — New Orleans

The New Orleans Museum of Art’s 11-acre Besthoff Sculpture Garden reopened to visitors on June with at 25 percent capacity with special hours for seniors and the immunocompromised. Visitors are asked to don face coverings and observe social distancing measures while admiring works by such artists as Frank Stella, Katharina Fritsch, Henry Moore, and Louise Bourgeois. Meanwhile, the rest of the museum is open for virtual visits.

deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum — Lincoln, Massachusetts

The 30-acre grounds of the deCordova Sculpture Park—the largest of its kind in New England—is open to the public but reserved timing/day passes are required to gain access to prevent overcrowding. All buildings will remain closed until further notice.

The Glenstone — Potomac, Maryland

The Glenstone, the free and tricky-to-get-into private contemporary art museum in Potomac, Maryland, will reopened its sprawling, 300-acre campus as an “outdoor-only experience” for the duration of the summer on June 4. (No firm reopen date has been announced for the Charles Gwathmey- and Thomas Phifer-designed buildings that house a bulk of the museum’s collection.) As always, reservations are strictly required on the days the museum will operate (Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) while various additional safety measures have been instituted including the requirement that visitors wear face coverings and enjoy the grounds in groups of five or less. All indoor amenities, including bathrooms, will be closed to the public so go before you, well, go. Al fresco highlights of the museum include sculptures and installations by the likes of Jeff Koons, Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly, and more.

Lynden Sculpture Garden — Milwaukee

Milwaukee’s lush 40-acre Lynden Sculpture Garden reopened on June 1 for “free social distance walking” daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (The grounds are closed on Thursdays). Guests are encouraged to wear face coverings and arrive in groups of nine people are less. Bathrooms and indoor facilities remain closed while all guided visits and group tours are cancelled until further notice.

Michigan Legacy Art Park — Thompsonville, Michigan

Located on the grounds of Crystal Mountain Resort, the woodsy 30-acre Michigan Legacy Art Park, home to over 40 permanent sculptures and 2 miles of secluded trails, is open, as always, to visitors every day of the year (with some safety-related tweaks.) As the park writes: “One of the best things about our 30 acres of outdoor wilderness and our miles of hiking trails is that you won’t encounter crowds. It’s not uncommon to wander through our forest and never see more than a few other people, or none at all. Our park is designed to give you and your family peace and quiet, with multiple trails and routes that you can select yourself. #SocialDistancing is already built into our plans.”

Olympic Sculpture Park — Seattle

While the Seattle Art Museum remains closed until further notice, the museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park—at nine acres, it’s the largest green space in downtown Seattle—remains open to the public with various safety measures in place.

Socrates Sculpture Park – Queens, New York

Nestled along the East River in Astoria, Queens, Socrates Sculpture Park remains open along with other New York City public parks during its regular hours (9:00 a.m. to sunset). The New York City Parks Department requires that visitors observe various safety practices while in the park including donning face coverings.