After New York City and Beacon, we spent a day at Storm King. Storm King is a sculpture park squeezed between the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River. Over 100, mostly large, sculptures dot the landscape. The Hudson Valley region of New York is host to a number of notable art institutions. We focused our adventures on art collections that are outside and included site-specific artworks. Outdoor sculpture parks give the children (and adults) more freedom to play during the visit. The fresh air changes the approach and makes my children happier.
The woods, meadows, hills, and fields on the property make a great hike and fresh experiences of the artworks. The sections of the property outlined on Storm King’s map feel like entirely different places. It is worth spending time in each part and finding a fun place to stop and play. I brought a few games and snacks, but not quite the right ones. Next time, I will bring a thick picnic blanket, a ball, binoculars, and cold treats. Think about how to use the space as an asset, but remember that it is mostly fields rather than lawns. You need bug spray and something to separate you from the ants.
Also, the visitor center shop sells a coloring book that includes 27 of the artworks from the collection. If you pick it up beforehand, then it gives your children something to read and do when they find each artwork.
When we woke up the morning of our Storm King visit, my three year old asked, “Is there going to be anything we can climb?” I ran through the artworks in my mind… “Yes!” I replied. “There is one. Maya Lin’s Wavefield!” He only asked about the climbing art thing a million times more. When we approached the Wavefield there was a sign asking visitors to stay off of the installation that day. It had rained the entire night before, and I assumed footprints on the muddy hills damages the installation. I had one disappointed toddler and I spent most of my time at that spot repeating, “No, you can’t climb that perfectly arced ramp or the bright square monkey bars or the giant bronze hotdogs…”
The vast views make the journey to the artworks an important part of the experience. I mis-calculated, however, just how much openness there was between installations. I would have appreciated that fancy double all-terrain stroller (that was too big to pack). There are some gravel paths and paved roads, but mostly you walk through fields. They do rent adult bikes, but not bike trailers or child bikes (and you are not permitted to bring your own bikes). My children loved riding on their tram, but I think it changes your experience of the place and artwork. I prefer my first experience of the artwork to be on foot.
When you go, don’t miss work by Ursula Von Rydingsvard, Alyson Shotz, Andy Goldsworthy, Maya Lin, Sol Lewitt, and Menashe Kadishman. If you have the flexibility, don’t look at the details ahead of time. Start by just hiking. Find what you find. Be surprised. Then study the map and go see what you might have missed, and don’t forget to find the temporary exhibitions. They just announced that in 2016 there will be new installations by Dennis Oppenheim and Josephine Halvorson!
Storm King is an example of how art in the landscape benefits the environment and the art. It isn’t often that Mark Di Suvero’s giant steel sculptures can feel small or a row of yellow sugar maples seem more brilliant. We will go again, when I can take my double stroller or there is something to climb.
CNTraveller: Escape to Storm King Art Center, Playground of Giants *source for image 1
NYTimes: Where the Ocean Meets the Mountains *source for image 2
Our trip to New York City
Our trip to Beacon