Six sculpture parks

  • 21 August 2015

Make the most of the last days of summer by enjoying art in the great outdoors.

1. Burghley House, Lincolnshire

Reduced price entry with National Art Pass

It may be known as one of the grandest surviving estates of the Elizabethan age, but nestled amid the 18th-century Capability Brown gardens is a hive of contemporary sculpture. As well as a permanent display of works by Martyn Barratt, Michele Ciribifera, Giles Kent and Michael Shaw, among others, the sculpture park hosts an annual exhibition which runs from April to October. This season it's Funny Ha Ha, which features amusing pieces in unexpected places or made out of unusual materials.

2. The Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden, Cornwall 

50% off entry with National Art Pass

The museum inhabits Trewyn Studio in St Ives, where Barbara Hepworth lived and worked from 1949 until her death in 1975. However, flicking through her famous Pictorial Autobiography which records her life as a sculptor, she is often seen in the studio’s garden. In 1962, Hepworth wrote: ‘I always envisage ‘perfect settings’ for sculpture and they are, of course, mostly envisaged outside and related to the landscape.’ Walking through this sculptural garden, you can find sculptures in their intended places, revealed to their best advantage.

3. The Cass Sculpture Foundation, West Sussex

50% off entry with National Art Pass

Since it was established by Wilfred and Jeannette Cass in 1992, the foundation has helped produce more than 400 works by over 200 established and emerging artists – including Anthony Caro, Tony Cragg and Antony Gormley. Its ambition is for the commissions to send sculptors into new directions and create new opportunities for them elsewhere. A changing roster of exhibitions throughout the summer allows you to discover new and daring works by some of the most important contemporary artists. 

4. Henry Moore Foundation at Perry Green, Hertfordshire

Reduced price entry with National Art Pass

Henry Moore lived at Perry Green for 40 years, and the estate includes his former house, flower garden and studios, as well as 70 acres of land where some of his sculptures are displayed. Now open to the public, visitors can explore Moore's old studios to gain insight into his creative process, or admire the Picasso painting he kept in his kitchen while at his Hoglands home. The old barns are used for a programme of exhibitions such as the 2015 summer exhibition which showcases over 20 of Moore’s sculptures in the setting where he originally created them.

5. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Yorkshire

Free to all, 10% shop discount with National Art Pass

Last year’s winner of Art Fund's Museum of the Year award, Yorkshire Sculpture Park has a bold artistic vision. Since its public opening in 1977, it has sought to provide ‘great art for everyone’. The grounds of the 18th-century Bretton Hall provide a breathtaking setting to appreciate and discover works by sculptors from all over the world including Julian Opie, Joan Miró and James Turrell​. At the moment, it is hosting Henry Moore: Back to a Land which considers the sculptor’s close relationship with land and its fundamental role in fuelling his visual vocabulary.

6. Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh

50% off entry with National Art Pass

It was Nicky Wilson’s life-long dream to own a sculpture park. Hence, following their purchase of Bonnington House, Nicky and her husband Robert decided to create a space for eminent contemporary sculptors to show their works. Following its opening in 2009, Jupiter Artland has quickly established itself as an exciting new addition to the UK art scene. There are over 30 permanent works on display by sculptors such as Anish Kapoor and Nathan Coley. All the sculptures were created especially for Jupiter, the design and location chosen personally by the artist.

Please note: some sculpture parks operate summer-only opening hours. Please see the relevant website for details.

Tags: What to seeMuseums and galleriesGreat days out