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An Extraordinary Outdoor Museum

Delightful treasures can be found in every direction

Article by Sue Baldani

Photography by David Michael Howarth & Provided

Originally published in Morris City Lifestyle

Before you even get to Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, you’ll see incredible art sculptures along the local roads. It’s a tantalizing introduction for what you’ll see when you arrive at the 42-acre property.

Walking around the beautiful gardens is a pleasure in itself, but being able to view magnificent sculptures at the same time is a truly unique experience. While many of the over 300 pieces of art throughout the property are out in the open, others may be a little harder, and fun, to find. Off the main walkway you may see a little path and wonder, “What’s down that way?” It may be a sculpture of people having a picnic by a small pond, and in that pond you’ll see a sculpture of a boat and some ducks. More hidden paths lead to other delightful finds. 

“That sense of discovery and surprise is such a big part of how the garden was designed,” says Executive Director, Gary Garrido Schneider. “There are quiet areas of contemplation, but then there's the awe of something spectacularly big and unexpected.” It’s said that the ponds by the Van Gogh Cafe and gazebo are full of sacred lotus. When in bloom, they are just glorious.

The garden is welcoming all year round when the spring and summer flowers are in full bloom and when the leaves are bursting with colors in the fall. Wintertime has its own picturesque beauty.

“This year, the real showstopper is our indoor exhibitions of ceramic work,” he says. “Located in one of our galleries, it focuses on ceramics as a social medium. We have a solo show - Roberto Lugo: The Village Potter. Lugo’s a very well-regarded ceramicist, who has exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and museums around the country. He’s a Puerto Rican artist who is known for making very large-scale pottery vessels that incorporate historic Black and Latino figures including civil rights leaders, popular culture, musicians, et cetera.”

Grounds for Sculpture supported Lugo in creating a 20-foot tall vessel. It looks like a ceramic vessel, but it's actually made out of other materials. Visitors can go inside, climb the stairs, and actually become part of the artwork themselves.

Many of the sculptures stay the same, but others are changed out occasionally, so frequent visitors can still see their favorites, but there’s always something new to see too. Its Domestic Arts and museum buildings each have one exhibition a year and the Education Gallery changes its exhibitions seasonally.

Another popular draw are the peacocks. “I think they add to that sense of wonder,” says Gary. “They're showy animals, and they love all the attention they get.”

Strolling around the gardens for hours may work up an appetite. Along with two cafes for light fare and beverages, its upscale restaurant Rats offers fine cuisine for both lunch and dinner.  

Due to the popularity of Grounds for Sculpture, timed tickets have to be reserved in advance. However, if you’re a member, you can come anytime at no additional cost throughout the year, and also receive discounts in the store as well as discounts at the café and restaurants. Members also get invited to special events. “We're a nonprofit, so membership also supports us,” he says.

There are also a full range of programs offered, including many wellness workshops. Members receive discounts on these courses as well. Private events, such as weddings and birthday parties, can also be held on the property.

To plan your visit, go to