Where to see art outdoors: Sculpture parks and art gardens to visit now
Art and the great outdoors – have you ever known a better pairing? Head to these venues to see art in the open air, in dramatic garden and parkland settings.
From Barbara Hepworth to Damien Hirst, artists have long been making work inspired by the great outdoors – and the great outdoors is the perfect place to see it.
Featuring sculpture by legendary artists including Elisabeth Frink, Antony Gormley and many more, these gardens and sculpture parks present work that's intended to be at one with nature, perfect for a wander in the fresh air.
Why not plan a visit and get up close to these impressive structures for yourself. Explore the work of both up-and-coming and well-known artists in these gorgeous green settings.
Remember that many venues now require booking ahead, and have additional measures in place for your safety; be sure to check their websites before visiting, and enjoy your day out.
- West Yorkshire
The beautiful gardens of the Hepworth Wakefield are scattered with sculptures by leading artists including Barbara Hepworth and Rebecca Warren. Highlights include a striking yellow pitchfork by conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin, which appears like a 'drawing in the air' against the flowers' colourful backdrop, and Dancing Figures (1956), by celebrated post-war sculptor Lynn Chadwick, which references the ‘Teddy Boy’ youth movement of the mid-1950s. The vibrant gardens are planted in the distinctive style of landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith.
The Hepworth Wakefield Garden is open and free to visit, while the gallery remains closed. The garden cafe is also open daily for takeaway, 11am-3pm. Check their website for more details.
A former nominee for Art Fund Museum of the Year, Jupiter Artland is home to over 30 permanent sculptures created especially for this dramatic location by artists including Phyllida Barlow, Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Cornelia Parker. Set across 100 acres of meadow and woodland, this gorgeous open-air art space just outside of Edinburgh is the ideal location for a breath of fresh air.
Jupiter Artland is open. Check their website for more details and to book.
- Greater Manchester
If you’re out for a wander in Whitworth Park, you might notice what appears to be a tree made of mirrors. Constructed in stainless steel, this majestic sculpture by Anya Gallaccio reinstates a fallen ancient tree in a man-made form, and explores ideas of loss, memory and presence. The Whitworth art gallery is right in the heart of the park and there are plenty of other dazzling works to explore outside, including Nathan Coley’s text-based work, Gathering of Strangers, which stands poignantly above the gallery’s park entrance.
Whitworth Park is open and free to visit, while the gallery remains closed. Check their website for more details.
The hundreds of acres of parkland at this fantastic Norfolk art gallery are home to both a large population of wild rabbits and a collection of striking sculptures. Works by artists including Henry Moore and Liliane Lijn, wildflowers and ancient oaks provide the backdrop for the stunning urban architecture of the gallery building itself.
The Sainsbury Centre Sculpture Park is open daily during daylight and free to visit, while the gallery remains closed. The Terrace cafe is open for takeaway from 13 April. Check their website for more details.
For inspiring views of the work of renowned sculptor Henry Moore, you can't go wrong with a visit to his studio, where the gardens are littered with fine examples of his immediately recognisable forms. Demonstrating the artist’s skill, with a range of work from large-scale outdoor sculptures to small maquettes, the gardens at his former home are perfect for a creatively fuelled day outdoors.
The sculpture gardens are open, while the studios remain closed. Check their website for more details and to book.
In the grounds of Runnymede you'll find a striking architectural landmark by Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger. Writ in Water explores the powerful message of Clause 39 of Magna Carta (which was sealed at this site): the importance of the rule of law. Made using materials drawn from the surrounding area, Writ in Water offers a tranquil place of reflection and contemplation: step inside and you'll find the principles of the clause written around a pool, to be read from the water’s surface.
The Magna Carta cafe is open on weekends. Check Runnymede & Ankerwycke's website for more details.
Running annually from April to October, in landscape designer Capability Brown's 'lost' lower gardens, Burghley House’s renowned sculpture exhibitions show a mixture of works which often take their inspiration from the house and gardens. Explore fantastic sculpture alongside pretty wildflowers, a charming icehouse and expansive lake, all in Burghley's vast grounds.
The gardens and parkland are open daily. Check their website for more details and to book.