Last updated on November 7, 2019 at 01:12 pm
My family is weird, frustrating at times, and eclectic. One day I find myself reenacting alongside a Civil War photographer and the next I find myself immersed in the wonders that make up the Grounds for Sculpture. The latter I’m convinced is the next wonder of the world. This sculpture park, located in Hamilton, NJ, sits on 42 acres of landscaped grounds, the former site of the New Jersey State Fairgrounds, and features over 270 works by well-known and emerging artists. Even if contemporary art isn’t your thing, this place is just plain fun! I’m certain it’s magic actually.
J. Seward Johnson, sculptor and philanthropist, first had the idea for this public garden and museum in 1984. He wanted to make contemporary sculpture accessible to people from all backgrounds. Finally in 1992, Grounds for Sculpture was established. The sculpture park provides visitors with an evolving permanent outdoor collection, seasonal exhibitions, and educational programs. The park also contains a restaurant, cafe, and warming hut (which came in handy during my winter visit).
But that’s not all! There’s a year-round schedule of performing arts events, the restaurant features a view of the Monet Bridge, complete with lily pads, and the cafe offers a nice selection of affordable quick bites and peacocks roam freely. There’s also a great gift shop that won’t break the bank. The schedule of events changes every month, plus the exhibitions in the six indoor galleries rotate throughout the year. In addition to all that, Grounds for Sculpture offers classes, speakers, and community events for all ages. And admission won’t cost you an arm and a leg either. Adults can get in for $12, senior citizens 65 and older are only $10, children aged 6-17 are $8, and kids five and under are free.
The best thing about this place is that you make it what you want it to be. There are tours of all kinds, even moonlight tours, but you’re not required to take a tour. Wandering aimlessly about is encouraged because there are surprises around every corner, literally! Some of the sculptures were so realistic I thought I’d intruded on another group strolling the grounds. There’s something about this informal setup that makes contemporary sculpture easily digestible. Plus, it’s just fun to wander around and see what you can find!
New Jersey is filled with numerous unknown treasures and for me Grounds for Sculpture was one of them. It’s a wonderful place to get some exercise, fresh air, and a fresh perspective. Have you been there? What are some other hidden New Jersey treasures that you’d recommend? Tell me and I could go there next as part of the Plymouth Rock Destination NJ series.