Some art is too monumental to be constrained within even the largest gallery or museum — only the great outdoors will do. Sculpture parks splash these works against nature’s canvas, displaying them across forests, fields, or even beneath the sea. Here are six of the world’s most beautiful sculpture parks where you can enjoy spectacular outdoor art exhibitions.
Storm King Art Center – New York
Established in 1960, Storm King was originally dedicated to showcasing the work of the Hudson River School, a group of 19th-century landscape painters. A 1967 purchase of 13 works from the estate of sculptor David Smith, however, shifted the center’s focus to outdoor art — situated among 500 serene acres of forests, pastures, and rolling hills in New York’s Hudson Valley. Today, it’s the largest collection of contemporary outdoor sculptures in the U.S., with more than 100 monumental works from artists including Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero, Sol LeWitt, and Isamu Noguchi, whose Momo Taro invites visitors to climb inside. The center is closed for the winter season from December to April.
Château La Coste – France
Outdoor art and architecture come together at this stunning wine estate in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of Southern France. Walk through pavilions designed by legendary architects such as Richard Rogers, Kengo Kuma, and Frank Gehry — who designed New York City’s Guggenheim Museum. Visitors can explore both temporary and permanent installations by artists such as Ai Weiwei, Tracey Emin, Zhou Li, and Louise Bourgeois. If you can’t drag yourself away, the winery’s grounds also house a spa, hotel, and four restaurants.
Museum of Underwater Sculpture – Cyprus
Few museums require masks and fins, but this underwater forest off the coast of the Mediterranean resort town of Ayia Napa is a museum like no other. Beneath the waves, scuba divers and snorkelers drift through a magical landscape of more than 90 figurative and nature-inspired sculptures, which have been submerged about 30 feet beneath the surface. The work of British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, the sculptures are created from natural materials and are intended to regenerate the recovery of coral habitats in the marine protected area.
While you’re there, don’t miss the above-ground Ayia Napa Sculpture Park. Overlooking Famagusta Bay, it contains work from more than 50 artists from around the world. And at nearby Green Bay, divers and snorkelers will find mythologically inspired sculptures (as well as ancient amphora) resting on the seafloor.
Inhotim Museum – Brazil
One of the largest outdoor sculpture parks in Latin America, the Instituto De Arte Contemporânea E Jardim Botânico in Brumadinho, Brazil, touts the motto “where art meets nature.” And the 2,000-acre campus lives up to that, with an amazing collection of art surrounded by the lush, tropical jungle of the Atlantic Rainforest. Housing more than 1,300 works, the museum grounds feature 35 gardens with almost 5,000 plant species, along with 700 works by more than 60 artists from around the world.
Naoshima – Japan
Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama — aka the “princess of polka dots” — created the iconic pumpkins that Naoshima is famed for, but the gourds are by no means the only draw on this art-filled island in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea. The Benesse House is both a contemporary art museum and resort hotel situated on the island. This complex has four distinct buildings: the Museum, Oval, Park, and Beach. All these structures are masterpieces crafted by the renowned architect Ando Tadao, and they feature a number of interesting sculptures, including five works by acclaimed French-American sculptor and painter Nikki de Saint Phalle.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park – United Kingdom
This 500-acre park in the 18th-century Bretton Hall estate in West Yorkshire, England, boasts both indoor and outdoor exhibition spaces, including a colossal sculpture by the legendary artist Henry Moore. The park opened in 1977 as the U.K.’s first permanent outdoor sculpture exhibition. Today, it is home to more than 100 sculptures and installations by leading artists, along with a gorgeous restaurant and indoor gallery space.