4. Grounds For Sculpture, Hamilton NJ
The first thing you see when you click on “visit” on the Grounds For Sculpture website is Looking for the perfect daytrip?. Well actually, yes, we are! And if you are ok with an approximate 90 minute drive from Manhattan, you are in for a treat in the opposite direction from our other recommendations. Be prepared to see world class sculpture among a living library of native and exotic trees and flowers”.
Founded by sculptor and philanthropist Seward Johnson, Grounds For Sculpture opened in 1992 on the former NJ State Fairgrounds, With 300+ sculptures installed over the 42 acres, the founders’ vision to ““fill people everywhere with the emotional sustenance derived from the powerful and restorative connection between art and nature.”. He even created a bizarre collection of sculptures he called Beyond the Frame, which are lifesize 3D replicas of famous impressionistic paintings and other iconic scenes that viewers can get up close and personal with. Imagine grabbing the table next to the couple in Edouard Manet’s Chez Pere Lathuille.
Aside from the whimsey of Beyond the Frame, most of the artwork at Grounds for Sculpture is made by internationally recognized sculptors. With collaborators such as Gloria Vanderbilt, who worked with Johnson on the unique environment Forest of the Subconscious, to sculptures by world renown artists like Kiki Smith, who grew up in NJ, and George Segal, to the charming Rats Restaurant with award winning views, there is so much to see and do among the paths, reflecting pools and meadows that you may want to leave extra early to fit it all in.
After a year of being closed, the museum’s indoor spaces are opening with the exhibition Bruce Beasley: Sixty Year Retrospective, 1960-2020, which also includes outdoor sculptures. There is also the fine dining restaurant, Rat’s Inn, on the grounds, reservations suggested. Entry to Grounds For Sculpture is by advance timed ticket only and capacity is limited. Both Members and Public are required to reserve timed tickets online to visit. The Garden is open Thursday through Sunday 10AM to 6PM.