New England has a legendary reputation for its scenic and diverse landscape. Seems that we put a ton of sculpture out in it.
We love the foliage, mountaintops, lush gardens, streams, rivers, and (sometimes) snow. But what about the enormous elephant carved from boxwood in Providence? Or the bronze Cat in the Hat lounging in the heart of Springfield? Or craggy modern sculptures in the haunting woods of Brookline, New Hampshire? Turns out New England’s cultural cool and landscape diversity is matched by its dozens of public sculpture parks, museum sculpture gardens, and public outdoor collections. Next time you’re in the car, on a bike, or hiking up your favorite mountain, take a second look at that picturesque view … there might be a twisting, abstract heap of metal in the distance worth some pondering.
DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
The largest and possibly most renowned sculpture park of its kind in New England, the DeCordova (dee-cor-duh-vah in eastern Mass-speak) features more than 60 works of modern and contemporary sculpture across 35 acres.
Contemporary Sculpture at Chesterwood
“As a former university history of art professor who specialized in American art, when I discovered that we were going to be in the Stockbridge area, I made sure that Chesterwood would be my go-to-place!” —TripAdvisor reviewer
Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden
Nestled in the center of the Springfield Museums, the Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden is exactly that: a sculpture park showcasing life-sized depictions of characters created by Theodor Seuss Geisel, who was born and raised in Springfield. Bonus: head inside to check out the Springfield Museums’ Indian Motorcycle collection. You can’t miss those one-of-a-kind sidecars.
Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
The sculpture garden at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum features a wide range of rotating, site-specific commissions from artists all over the world.
Studio 80 Sculpture Grounds
With over 100 sculptures to explore across nearly five acres of land, visitors are encouraged to roam the grounds “and interact with the works, perhaps turning kinetic elements or wandering through open pieces.” Proceed with caution, especially when interacting with the intricate works by David Smalley and Gilbert Boro.
Edward Tufte’s Hogpen Hill Farms
The 234-acre tree and sculpture farm features seven sculpture fields spread across a swath of northwest Connecticut owned by data-visualization genius Edward Tufte. “One day each year for the past five years, Tufte has opened his property, Hogpen Hill Farms, to visitors so they can see his 80 sculptures, wander his peaceful grounds, and meet and talk to him.” — Hartford Courant.
Andres Institute of Art Sculpture Park
The Andres Institute’s 140-acre outdoor gallery, spread down the slopes and through the crisscrossed trails of Big Bear Mountain, displays 70 original, modern, and contemporary works made from stone, metal, and found objects from artists around the world.
Meredith Sculpture Walk
“[The sculpture walk] is a year-round, outdoor, juried exhibition with 31 locations featuring works by artists from New England and the Northeast. Sculptures are positioned in high-visibility areas along Main Street, the Mill Falls Marketplace, and in our lakeside Hesky and Scenic Parks.” — Greater Meredith Program
Head to the “Dark Woods” section of Bedrock Gardens to linger amongst the spooky, slender, wooden humanoid figures, aluminum sculpted robots, and dark pine-tree patches.
Green Animals Topiary Garden
The nation’s oldest and most northern topiary garden. Gigantic elephants, giraffes, friendly bears, and ornate geometric patterns carved from California privet, yew, and English boxwood … what else do you need?
Brown University Campus
Peruse the university campus to find statues over a century old, like the Caesar Augustus statue gifted to the university in 1906. In addition, the campus has several modern and contemporary works from artists like Tom Friedman and Nick Bibby.
Path of Life
The Path of Life takes you on a winding journey through 18 works ranging from sculpted mazes to a stone Buddha, all of which symbolize “the journey from birth to death and beyond,” starting with (obviously) Birth and ending with (less obviously) Rebirth. Bonus: After reckoning with the transient nature of being, visitors can head across the street to the Harpoon Brewery for tours and further contemplation.
Cold Hollow Sculpture Park
Exclusively featuring work by nationally-known artist David Stromeyer, Cold Hollow Sculpture Park provides a unique opportunity to see an artist’s work as it’s progressed over four decades. Stroll five rolling meadows with 50 large-scale sculptures to discover how Stromeyer’s rhythmic forms mimic the surrounding Vermont scenery.
Vermont Art Council Sculpture Garden
A public/private collaboration of rotating, two-year exhibits of contemporary sculptures created by Vermont artists, ranging from painted steel representations of theoretical physics to a swaying, abstract sculpture of dance partners in motion.
Ogunquit Museum of American Art
The Ogunquit Museum of American Art features an extensive collection of modern and contemporary sculptures positioned throughout a scenic seaside garden.
Portland International Jetport
Though the Portland International Jetport is still reeling from the recent theft of its 30-pound porcupine sculpture, the remaining seven-sculpture collection by Wendy Klemperer is definitely worth a visit. All sculptures are viewable from the terminal.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Yes, this is a botanical garden. However, amongst the azaleas and spiraea bushes, you’ll find a sizable collection of stone, wood, bronze, and glass sculptures from artists throughout the region.
Top photo by David Stromeyer [CC BY-SA 3.0]