Colorful sculptures as tall as houses, a pop-art mermaid stretched across a lake, an electric orange streak stretching straight into the sky—Storm King Art Center is a bit like the Willy Wonka of art, over the top, sure, but ultimately sweet fun.
Set on 500 acres of rolling grounds in the lower Hudson Valley (about an hour north of NYC), expansive Storm King feels like a cross between a park and a sculpture museum, with more than 100 mostly larger than life sculptures set among trees, hills, rocks and expansive stretches of green.
For our family, we’ve found it to be the perfect mix of art and outdoors, giving us a chance to introduce artists such as Alexander Calder, Maya Lin, and Roy Lichtenstein to our son without the restraints that often make museums difficult for children to enjoy: ie, no running, loud talking, cartwheel turning (okay, we don’t actually do that, but with a park’s worth of grass, you certainly could).
We’ve been visiting Storm King Art Center since Aidan (now 11) was in a stroller. Back then we would use the free shuttle that loops around the grounds to try and see as much as we could before naptime, settling on one or two areas to focus on. Today though, we park the car and head off on foot to hit up some of our favorites such as the large metal tubes that shoot up into the air over our heads at “Adonai” and the squiggle of safety cone orange “Endless Column.
We often tire out before the South Fields, but it’s one of my favorites – nature is truly front and center here, with Maya Lin’s undulating “Wavefield” and the meandering “Storm King Wall” by Andy Goldsworthy which twists and turns around the trees for more than 2,000 feet (it’s especially scenic in autumn, when kids can kick up the leaves as they follow the wall).
On our next visit, we plan on trying out the bike rentals (we were thwarted by wet weather our last visit); for $8 per hour ($10 on weekends), you can rent a cruiser to take around the park (unfortunately, personal bikes aren’t allowed). It looks like great fun and definitely provides an opportunity to see the far corners of the park.
What we have been able to sample, however, are the Sunday family programs (starting at 1 pm; free) at the Visitor’s Center where we recently spent a fun afternoon cutting out a life size image of Aidan to turn into lawn sculpture. Also at the Visitor’s Center is the small gift shop where we bought a Storm King “coloring book,” basically a kids’ guide to the park – for $2.95 it’s a worthwhile investment, and a great souvenir.
A visit to Storm King is also a great excuse to pack a gourmet picnic and spread out a blanket—we hit a local farmer’s market on the way up, and then stretch out and enjoy the nature for a while. A sweet field trip indeed.
Storm King Art Center
1 Museum Road, New Windsor, NY
Opened Wednesday -Sunday, 10 am to 5:30 pm (grounds open until 8 pm on Saturdays And Sunday, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend; until 4:30 pm in November). Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, except for the holiday Mondays of Labor, Columbus and Veterans Days.
Adults $15/ Kids ages 5 – 18: $8 / Kids 4 and under: Free
(Top Photo: Flickr)