As an art and nature lover, it can be hard to choose which activity to prioritize on vacation. If you don’t want to choose, here are some of the best outdoor art installations to visit in the United States.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Known for being a mixed-media, immersive art exhibition, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens focuses on educating the public about folk and mosaic artworks. Creator Isaiah Zagar played with hand-made tiles, bicycle wheels, water bottles, and mirrors. Zagar has lived in Philadelphia since the 1960s and began work on the gardens in 1991. In 2008, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens opened to the public. The gardens look at folk art, art environments, as well as how art can be used as a therapeutic tool.
Spiral Jetty – Salt Lake City, Utah
Robert Smithson created this Earthwork in 1970, and it is 1,500 feet long and 15 feet wide. It spirals counterclockwise in the Rozel Point Peninsula in the Great Salt Lake. Smithson used over 6,000 tons of black basalt rocks from the site. Spiral Jetty will eventually disappear due to erosion.. Depending on the water levels of the Great Salt Lake, it can be fully submerged or completely exposed to the elements.
Grounds for Sculpture – Hamilton, New Jersey
Grounds for Sculpture is 42 acres and offers permanent sculpture gardens (with over 270 sculptures), rotating exhibitions, and six indoor galleries. With a wide variety of colossal and abstract works, as well as sculptures inspired by famous works of impressionist artists, Grounds for Sculpture is a playful look at the way art and nature coexist. This sculpture garden allows for hands-on play and exploration and is a great place to bring kids. There’s a photo opportunity around every corner, and keep an eye out for peacocks.
Fly’s Eye Dome – Miami, Florida
The Miami Design District was fortunate enough to receive three of Buckminster Fuller’s original Fly’s Eye Domes during Art Basel Miami Beach. In the early 2010s, a fourth dome was created in partnership with Goetz Composites and the Buckminster Fuller Institute to build a Fly’s Eye Dome with new technology that wasn’t available when Fuller first patented the design in 1965. The architect created these domes to create low-cost, eco-friendly, transportable housing. Check out prototypes and recreation domes throughout the Miami Design District and the recreated dome at the center of the Palm Court Shopping Center.
Michigan Legacy Art Park – Benzie County, Michigan
Called a “uniquely northern Michigan” experience, this park combines art, nature, history, and hiking. The art park was founded in 1995 by internationally known artist David Barr. The 30-acre wooded preserve is leased from Crystal Mountain for $1 a year and now operates as a non-profit. Michigan Legacy Art Park has 51 permanent works on display, as well as a stunning entrance gallery. Bring a sketchbook and take a break at one of the many artist benches as you enjoy this unique outdoor walk.
Morton Arboretum – Lisle, Illinois
Open every day from 7 AM until sunset, the Morton Arboretum is located 25 miles outside of Chicago and features 16 miles of hiking trails, a children’s garden, a maze garden, and a number of rotating exhibitions. Their current exhibition, Of the Earth, is made up of five large sculptures by Polish-American artist Olga Ziemska. The sculptures are made from the prunings of trees and other natural materials collected from the 1,700-acre arboretum, giving them a new and second life. This exhibition will run until 2025.
Are you adding one or more of these to your summer-travel list?