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Fine Weather for Fine Art

Oct 20, 2017 11:20AM ● Published by Ashley Pape

You don’t have to choose between culture and the great outdoors this fall. All across the country, you can partake in visually stunning sculptures while enjoying the season’s vibrant colors (or at least comfortable temperatures). Here are a few places to take a stroll and nd that good art doesn’t always live behind museum walls.

Laumeier Sculpture Park | Saint Louis, Missouri

Just 20 minutes from the hustle and bustle of downtown Saint Louis, visitors can revel in the peace and tranquility of Laumeier Sculpture Park. Founded in 1976, it’s one of the country’s rst and largest sculpture parks, boasting 60 sculptures set

along nature trails and grassy knolls. Each year, more than 300,000 visitors stroll the 105-acre park that features a variety of larger-than-life masterpieces. Here, guests can contemplate classic sculptures or ogle more interesting pieces such as a giant eyeball that’s more than 37 feet in circumference. Some of the sculptures even include small, touchable models and braille descriptions for vision-impaired guests.

When you plan your visit, carve out at least an hour or two to explore the grounds. We suggest packing a picnic and taking the kids on a hike through the nearby woods. You can explore on your own, or join along on a themed tour led by Laumeier docents. If the idea of a traditional nature walk doesn’t excite you, embark on the Nature Trail Scavenger Hunt, a 1.6-mile, 40-minute route that tells a breathtaking tale of the park’s ecology, geology, history and art. The park is free and open daily, so bring the family (dogs are also welcome) and spend an afternoon enjoying art al fresco.Laumeier.org 

Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden | New Orleans, Louisiana

If you want to venture off the beaten path of the typical New Orleans visit, bypass Bourbon Street and take a meandering stroll through the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden adjacent to the New Orleans Museum of Art. This gem of a destination features more than 60 works of art nestled along footpaths, re ecting lagoons and 200-year- old live oaks. Even if you’re not an art a cionado, you’ll be captivated by the incredible sculptures that effortlessly blend into the garden. Were the sculptures strategically placed in the garden or was the garden manipulated to support the art? You’ll want to perch on a bench or a soft patch of grass and ponder it.

Spanning ve acres, the garden offers plenty of intimate settings that allow visitors to re ect on each piece at their own pace. You don’t have to worry about crowds rushing you along; you can take your time and enjoy the mix of contemporary and classic pieces that delight at every turn. If a piece particularly moves you, go ahead and touch it—visitors are just asked not to climb on the sculptures. Kids are welcome, but dogs, bicycles, rollerblades and picnicking aren’t allowed. Want to get a different perspective on the sculptures? Rent a canoe or paddleboat and experience the gardens from a tranquil pond. The garden is open daily with free admission. Noma.orgNewOrleansOnline.com

Fran and Ray Stark Sculpture Garden | Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles isn’t all smog and celebrities—the city is also home to one of the nation’s nest sculpture parks: the Fran and Ray Stark Sculpture Garden at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Donated by the late Hollywood lm director (Stark produced iconic lms including “Annie” and “Steel Magnolias”) and his wife, the garden encompasses three distinct outdoor spaces, each one unique in its offerings. Featuring 28 modern and contemporary sculptures, you can perch on a secluded bench and soak in the sculptures, fountains and breathtaking views of the city skyline. Bring the family to peruse works of art in terraces as well as open spaces and gardens, which were designed with speci c sculptures in mind. The garden is designed to inspire contemplation and conversation, so get ready for a little of both.

Can’t jet away to L.A.? Take a virtual tour and listen to sculptors discuss their work, or hear Getty Museum conservators, designers and curators talk about their views on the sculpture garden. If business or pleasure brings you to L.A., don’t miss this incredible open- air museum. It’s open daily with free admission. Getty.edu 

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