New York City is a hub for art but if you want to get out of the city for a day or weekend, there are some great outdoor sculpture parks within a two-hour radius of the city. It’s hard to describe the feeling of wandering around these giant landscapes and spotting the curious mirage-like works of art in the distance as you make your way to get a closer look. These sculpture parks bring you to artful destinations and are still only a day-trip away. Just head to the Hudson Valley, drive a bit upstate to Saugerties or out to the New Jersey countryside…even hop the Long Island Railroad over to Nassau County and be home the same day.
1. Opus 40
This 50-acre outdoor sculpture park Opus 40 in Saugerties, NY is the lifework of visionary artist Harvey Fite. Made using the ancient Mayan method of stacking and fitting stone, Fite worked only with traditional quarryman’s tools for thirty years creating this land art. It is a remarkable sight to behold, traverse, hike and scramble through,
Opus 40 started in 1938 after Fite purchased an abandoned bluestone quarry, He became a pioneer in the contemporary earthworks movement with the building of Opus 40. The compound exists of several walkways, memorial stones, natural pools, stairs and subterranean passageway. Features include a 13-foot monolith, and an amphitheater.
Many of Fite’s stone sculptures dot the sculpture park. An area encourages visitors to create their own stacked sculptures from the hundreds of stones scattered about.
There are some interesting added experiences when you visit OPUS 40. They include a one room museum which houses all the various hand tools that Fite used to build and sculpt as well as other artifacts from the history of the site. Larger tool relics adorn the building facades and are beautiful for their incredible patina (well, rust really!), size and design. Below the museum. which is on the second floor of the main barn is a sweet and nicely curated shop. Books about Opus 40, various local products like honey and modern apothecary items and a line of tarot cards by the mesmerizing Hudson Valley art duo of Kahn & Selesnick are for sale.
Finally, if you don’t really want to head back to the city you can stay in the home that Harvey Fite and his wife Barbara built and lived in. It is now listed on AirBnB.
Opus 40 outdoor sculpture park is located is Saugerties NY, about a 90 minute drive from Midtown. It is also possible to take a bus to Woodstock and then a car service or cab to Opus 40.