Outdoor art destinations around the world

Lauren Hill

Senior Contributor

An open-air setting and ample space for social distancing make outdoor art destinations an appealing prospect for cultural days out. Exhibiting artwork designed to complement and sit harmoniously within the landscape, these outdoor art destinations garner attention from across the globe.

Al Maaden Sculpture Park

The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) was established as an independent, not-for-profit contemporary art institution that promotes African art through its exhibition and education programme in Marrakech. The Al Maaden Sculpture Park is a cornerstone of this endeavour. This art-filled landscape is located within the Al Maaden Golf Resort in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. 

This site can be explored on foot, by bicycle—these are available at the entrance—or in a golf cart with a cultural mediator. For the creation of the sculpture garden, MACAAL Invited several Moroccan and international artists from countries including China and Argentina to come up with site-specific works in harmony with the land. Striking sculptures here include Wooden Crystal by Egyptian artist Moataz Nasr, the Nomad installation by Canadian artist Jean Brilliant and Fly Away, Swim Closer II steel butterflies by Sunil Gawde from India.

Moataz Nasr, Wooden Crystal, 2013 ©MACAAL

Benesse Art Site Naoshima

Benesse encompasses a number of art sites across the islands of Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea, just off Shikoku. By encouraging growth of art in relation to the region, the site as a whole aims to positively contribute to the local community while also inspiring a connection to the island’s nature and people as well as the art. The subterranean Chichu Art museum was mostly built underground to have minimal impact on the natural scenery and the Tadao Ando designed Benesse House Museum, which combines a museum with a hotel, focuses on the coexistence of nature, architecture and art. 

Teshima Art Museum then exhibits work in a space resembling a water droplet at the moment of landing. These and many more art museums, houses and indoor and outdoor installation sites guide people through the creative region. Many celebrated artists have had their work on display here. Chichu Art museum has a number of paintings by Claude Monet and many people recognise Benesse Art Site for the image of Yayoi Kusama’s iconic pumpkin sculpture at the water’s edge.

Jupiter Artland Scotland

Since its creation in 2009, this award-winning sculpture garden just outside Edinburgh has grown into what’s lauded as one of Scotland’s most significant arts organisations. The site covers more than 100 acres of meadow and woodland, as well as indoor gallery space, with permanent site-specific sculptures by renowned artists like Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor, and a seasonal programme of exhibitions and events. Jupiter Artland plans to nurture its landscape over time, adding to the diversity of plant and tree species, as well as advocating the transformative power of art through education and outreach on an on-going basis. 

Exploration of the wooded landscape here introduces you to artworks such as the reflective chrome and coloured installation A Forest by Jim Lambie, the Temple of Apollo by Ian Hamilton Finlay, and the 12-metre-high orchid-inspired Love Bomb installation by Marc Quinn.

Besthoff Sculpture Garden, NOMA

As New Orleans’ oldest fine arts institution, with a permanent collection of almost 40,000 objects, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) is a major draw for the city. The Sydney and Walda Bestoff Sculpture Garden covers around 11 areas of City Park adjacent the museum. The garden was originally created in 2003 but it was doubled in size with an expansion that was completed in 2019 and over the years it has grown its collection to include more of 90 sculptures, which were mostly donated to NOMA by the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Foundation. 

Blending nature with art, this garden of Louisiana trees and plants surrounded by two lagoons features installations that are inspired by the environment such as the Viñales wall mosaic by Teresita Fernández and swirling glass bridge by Elyn Zimmerman named Mississippi Meanders. The garden is home to sculptures by a number of internationally renowned artists including Larry Bell and the architect Frank Gehry.

Photographer: Richard Sexton

Schlossgut Schwante Sculpture Park

This sculpture park in Brandenburg, Germany, made its debut last summer with the inaugural exhibition Sculpture & Nature featuring artists like Ai Weiwei. The 200,000-sq-m site, which is located around 25km outside of Berlin, is steeped in history. The castle here was built by Count Erasmus Wilhelm von Redern in the early 1740s and the estate has since had stints as a provisional hospital, post office and restaurant with theatrical performance. 

The fields and forests of Upper Havelland surround this estate. The non-profit sculpture park, which was founded by Dr. Loretta Würtenberger and Daniel Tümpel, is to host a regularly renewing programme showcasing the work of international artists, along with a series of events such as artist-led tours, film nights, photography classes and dance performances. A restaurant and farm shop then join the 10-hectare sculpture park and it’s all open seasonally.

Sculpture & Nature at Schlossgut Schwante Sculpture Park

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