Beautiful gardens, hundreds of amazing art sculptures, and plenty of kid-friendly and adult-approved things to see, the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton Township is worth a visit.
When the kids and I visited the world’s largest tooth in Princeton last year, we had NO idea what was just down the road. Luckily a recent mention in New Jersey Monthly magazine clued us into Grounds for Sculpture, because it was well worth a visit.
The brainchild of Seward Johnson, it is 42 acres of beautifully maintained landscaping and gardens with art sculptures around every corner. As their Mission Statement notes, they wanted “to create a place to make contemporary sculpture more accessible to greater numbers of people from all backgrounds; to offer them the opportunity to develop privately, step-by step, a more intimate relationship with contemporary art; to share that experience with others in a familiar, accessible, informal setting in nature—giving them the chance, as Picasso said, to wash away “from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Everything from small sculptures to giant towering “monument” pieces like the Marilyn Monroe. This particular statue took three years to make and traveled the country (in four separate pieces) before it came back here to stay. There are some cool photographs inside one of the buildings showing the making of this particular statue, and also showing it broken down into pieces, traveling on various highways.
Located on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds, construction on Johnson’s vision began in 1989, and opened to the public three years later. Over the years, art, buildings, and exhibits have been added, and Grounds for Sculpture has been non-profit since 2000. There are nearly 300 sculptures throughout the property, many historical in nature, spanning the weird to the wonderful.
And a photographers’ dream, natch.
Beyond the grounds and the outdoor sculptures, there are also six buildings that are more museum-like in nature, with history of the different sculptures, interactive areas, a gift shop, restrooms, and more. Although it is a great location to bring along a picnic lunch, there is also a small French-inspired café serving up baguette sandwiches and crepes, and a fancy indoor/outdoor eatery called Rat’s Restaurant.
Because the grounds are so expansive, it’s a wonderful place to take kids since there is plenty of open space for them to roam around in. It truly has something for everyone.
We were there for about four hours, and only saw half of the sculptures (thunderstorms and rain thwarted our attempts to stay longer), but we plan to go back to finish what we missed. With all the lush landscaping, I bet the grounds are gorgeous in the Fall. And speaking of gorgeous, if you scroll through the #groundsforsculpture hash tag on Instagram, there are some amazing photos, particularly at dusk.
Grounds for Sculpture
126 Sculptors Way
Hamilton Township, NJ 08619
Hungry for more places to visit in New Jersey?
The lambing tour at Long Valley Creamery made for a fun afternoon, particularly because it included a cheese tasting. #cheeseismyhappyplace
The Sterling Hill Mining Museum is the perfect place to escape to on a hot summer day.
Brookhollow’s Barnyard is one of the most adorable farms we have visited.
The Mega Train exhibit is back at the Morris Museum and worth a stop.
And for more day trips and fun places to visit, check out this Pinterest board.