These museums and outdoor sculpture gardens are the perfect places to see art away from the crowds.
A beam of light is finally shining through nearly six months after museums and galleries around the United States closed their doors to enthusiasts. Stone sculptures are being dusted, canvases are being uncovered, and the long-awaited return to these visually cathartic oases is finally making a slow return. But as the gridiron gates begin to lift, a question looms overhead: How has the pandemic shifted our relationship with viewing art?
For the months in between, museums and galleries turned to the online landscape with an attempt for normalcy. Virtual exhibitions equipped with interactive features found their way on computer screens replacing the usual in-person visits that typically involve clusters of other guests. And now, as the aforementioned is obviously at a halt, these destinations have limited their viewing capacity inherently creating a competitive practice for visitors to secure an online reservation.
But, instead of looking at this as another obstacle, consider it a push to seek more. A quick glimpse of Instagram, and one may notice the growing popularity in day-trips to art destinations beyond the confines of any major city. Although it takes a bit of effort, maybe by car or train, the payoff is certainly there. Somewhere within the corridors of these galleries sits a collective of concept lantern lamps, a stroke of acrylic paint on canvas, or whatever it may be, that has the potential for visitors to leave with a new revelation after so many months confined to their quarters.
New Canaan, Connecticut
Built in 1949, the iconic ‘Glass House’ is a visual feast for those interested in both architecture and art. Equipped with all of Phillip Johnson’s original furniture, visitors are able to bask in the home’s stylistic approach of living with nature. The property also consists of a windowless art gallery in an underground bunker, pavilion pond, studio tour, and sculpture gallery.
Beuna Vista, Georgia
Covering over 7 acres of land, Pasaquan is a compound filled with eccentric art by southern folk artist, Eddie Owens Martin. First constructed in the 1950s, the destination consists of six quirky exhibitions including 4 acres of painted masonry walls, concrete structures, and a redesigned farmhouse. Martin is known for taking inspiration from cultures around the world, which can be seen throughout his countless painted human figures, techniques, and patterns.
15 miles outside of Washington D.C., the Glenstone Art Museum boasts around 1300 pieces of art sourced from international artists post World War II. The museum’s singular modernist limestone building itself can be considered a work of art as it’s designed to create an optical illusion of multiple buildings. Its peaceful and natural setting calls for a tranquil experience that further highlights the interconnectedness between art, nature, and life.
Manitou Springs, Colorado
Located west of Colorado Springs, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings offer a great opportunity to appreciate Anasazi Native lands by exploring real-life replicas of ancestral cliffside homes that can be explored throughout. Ancient tools and art are also available for viewing as well as a diverse range of desert-wildlife throughout.
Dedicated to the preservation of Western heritage art, The Museum of Western Art is a quick hour-long drive away from San Antonio. The destination feels like a step into the historical Wild West, with art pieces from Western Cowboys, Native Americans, Women of the West, settlers, Mountain Men, and more.
6. Dia: Beacon
Beacon, New York
Sitting on the bank of the Hudson just 80 minutes north of NYC, Dia: Beacon exhibits a large array of contemporary art and larger-than-life abstract sculptures. Carrying notable artists such as Andy Warhol and Dan Flavin, its spacious galleries offer complete solace during visits. Just across the river is also the Storm King Art Center, a sculpture park with bikes and a cafe.
University Park, Illinois
Just south of Chicago and still accessible via the city’s Metra, Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park (known affectionately as “The Nate”) boasts 30 large-scale master sculptures towering over 100 acres of land for a uniquely Midwestern “museum-in-the-prairie” experience.
Thurston County, Washington
Though only five acres of land, the hour-and-a-half drive from Seattle proper is worth the trip to Monarch Sculpture Park. Complete with 110 works of art, a Japanese garden, butterfly and bird garden, musical sound bath, and sand box with found objects for kids, Monarch is the perfect spot for an extended picnic or to wander around on a free afternoon.