Outdoor Art! 11 Sculpture Gardens to Visit with Kids

Glenstone Museum

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Sculpture gardens are a perfect way to introduce kids to fine art without worrying about whether their art gallery manners (whisper voices, hands to themselves) are ready for prime time. Kids will love spending time wandering outside at these enchanting spots all over the DMV. Plan to bring a picnic or, if your littles are budding artists, pack a small sketch pad and pencils so they can draw what they see. Check out these must-visit places with your little sculptors and enjoy outdoor art with the whole family.

Washington, DC


The REACH at the Kennedy Center
If you’re looking for a great pre- or post-concert art injection, or just a gorgeous place to spend an afternoon outside, visit The REACH at the Kennedy Center. The kids will love Joel Shapiro’s Blue: poised in mid-kick, turning the surrounding landscape into a giant stage as it prepares to pirouette across the grass, Blue is a great introduction to the immense artistic possibility of an outdoor sculpture.

2700 F St. NW
Foggy Bottom
Online: kennedy-center.org

Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden
Cathy Carver

Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden
You won’t want to miss the immersive Infinity Mirror Rooms at the Hirshhorn Museum this summer, and while you’re waiting for timed-entry tickets at the Plaza, you can soak up Yayoi Kusama’s darling Pumpkin with your little pumpkins. On your way out of the museum, make sure to walk through the museum’s sculpture gardens. With more than thirty works of art displayed year-round, the Hirshhorn Museum’s gardens offer visitors a contemplative haven in the heart of our nation’s capital.

Independence Ave and 7th St.
National Mall
Online: hirshhorn.si.edu

National Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
The National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden is nothing short of a national treasure. This collection spread over 6 1/2 acres on the National Mall, is a go-to spot with young residents and visitors in any season. Soak up works by greats like Calder, Oldenburg, and David Smith.

6th and Constitution Ave. NW
National Mall

Online: nga.gov

The Kreeger Museum
This once private Northwest home turned modern art enclave, is home to more than a dozen outdoor sculptures installed throughout the museum’s grounds, also featuring the always fun for kids, a reflecting pool. Allow kiddo to wander also among the trees and discover an earlier installed exhibit called Portals , composed of seven stainless steel and mirrored columns wrapped in wire, inviting visitors to explore the mazelike natural world.

Editor’s Note: Timed entry passes are required to visit the museum.

2401 Foxhall Rd. NW
Online: kreegermuseum.org



Glenstone Museum

Glenstone Museum
Installed throughout the expansive grounds, the collection of outdoor sculpture seamlessly integrates art, architecture, and nature. Wear your comfy walking shoes and bring a stroller if your kiddo gets tired easily: there’s a lot of ground to cover at Glenstone. But you and your littles will be thrilled by the cartoonish Split-Rocker, especially while it is in bloom from May to October. And you may also want to visit Clay Houses, which is open daily from 12pm to 4pm, weather permitting.

12100 Glen Road
Online: glenstone.org

Ladew Topiary Gardens
Stretching the definition of “sculpture” gardens, Ladew Topiary Gardens features more than 100 shrub sculptures (à la Edward Scissorhands)—trees shaped as seahorses, birds, and men in top hats. Kids will adore exploring this 50-year-old public garden. After taking in the topiaries, tour gardens of irises, roses, azaleas, water lilies, and more.

3535 Jarrettsville Pike
Online: ladewgardens.com

Baltimore Museum of Art

Baltimore Museum of Art
Take a stroll through the BMA’s gardens where you’ll find 33 sculptures positioned across nearly three acres. Tots will love sculptures in the BMA Sculpture Gardens that appear to be in motion even when they aren’t.

10 Art Museum Dr.
Baltimore, MD
Online: artbma.org

Anne Marie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center
Discover a new kind of outdoor art called Tree Pops, artwork hidden in the knots of trees among this 30 acre reserve in Solomons, MD. Spend time in the Fairy Lolly and stroll the Women’s Walk . Honoring local heritage as well, other pieces range from a commemoration at the entrance of Chesapeake Bay watermen, The Oyster Tonger, to Thirteen Talking Benches, arranged throughout the garden and inlaid with plant mosaics native to Southern Maryland.

13480 Dowell Rd.
Dowell, MD
Online: annmariegarden.org


Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Make a day trip to this Winchester property, a 1.5 hour drive from DC. From May 28 to Nov. 13, visit Origami in the Garden with your littles to see a collection of metal sculptures created by Santa Fe artist Kevin Box as well as collaborative works with his wife, Jennifer, and with numerous origami masters. The MSV installation will feature 11 larger-than-life displays of sculpture throughout the Glen Burnie Gardens and Inside Out, a display in the Glen Burnie House of paper origami models shown alongside unfolded cast metal wall hangings.

Insider Tip: Feeling inspired by all the origami you saw at the MSV? Pick up this great beginner’s kit and help your little make their very own!

901 Amherst St.
Winchester, VA
Online: themsv.org

Virginia Museum of Fine Art

Virginia Museum of Fine Art
The VMFA takes art outside for a memorable experience in an environment of changing light, climate and seasons. The 3 ½-acre Garden is an organic and free flowing space inspired by Virginia’s waterfalls and woodland paths. Garden secret: VMFA is one of only eight U.S. art museums to feature a permanent installation of work by artist Dale Chihuly.
2900 Grove Ave
Online: vmfa.museum

Worth the Drive

Stan Sperlak

The Sperlak Gallery and Sculpture Gardens
If summer travels to the beach lead you to Cape May, NJ, this sculpture garden is fewer than twenty miles away and worth the drive. The working farm, studio, nature sanctuary and sculpture garden of artist Stan Sperlak has become one of the most popular “Art” destinations in the country. Private tours with Stan can be arranged by calling 3 days in advance. Weekday self-guided visits can be made for anytime, and on the same day.

521 Route 47 North
Goshen, NJ
Online: thesperlakgallery.com



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