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Day Tripper: Grounds For Sculpture
08/10/2012 - By By Lori Herschman
Grounds For Sculpture
18 Fairgrounds Road
Hamilton, NJ 08619
In 1987, American sculptor J. Seward Johnson, Jr., the grandson of Johnson & Johnson founder Robert Wood Johnson, envisioned a public sculpture garden and museum where a large and varied body of sculpture could be exhibited. He yearned to make sculpture accessible to people of all backgrounds by giving them the opportunity to become more comfortable with contemporary art, while also providing related educational programs and events. The entire scope of the project included outdoor exhibition space and museum facilities in a serene, landscaped setting. The Inaugural Exhibition, in June 1992, was timed to coincide with the 14th annual Sculpture Conference in Philadelphia, with 15 outdoor works by 13 artists from New York and the local region on display. It was through this very exhibition that Grounds For Sculpture was born.
Located in Hamilton, NJ, Grounds For Sculpture is a 35-acre sculpture park and museum that is open year-round and has captivated visitors since its debut more than 15 years ago. Its mission is to promote an understanding of and appreciation for contemporary sculpture and create cross-disciplinary experiences in the arts by organizing exhibitions, publishing catalogs, and offering a variety of educational programs and special community events, including music and entertainment, lectures, tours, and hands-on art workshops.
In July 2000, Grounds For Sculpture became a public non-profit organization, Public Art Foundation Inc., which provides support by lending works for exhibit in the park. Sculptures in various styles and media – including bronze, steel, stone, wood, concrete, and mixed media – are all represented, and information about the collection’s artists can be found online. As a non-profit, the park relies on the support of visitors, art patrons, donations, and grants to continue its growth as an outstanding art center. Indoor exhibitions of well-known and emerging American and international artists are on display in two expansive, glass-walled buildings that were once exhibit halls for the New Jersey State Fair. Outdoors, more than 240 contemporary sculptures (ranging in size) can be found on the beautifully landscaped grounds, with newer additions featured online. The park, which was designed to provide an arboretum-like setting, has 2,000- plus rose bushes, rhododendrons, and other flowering shrubs, along with 1,000 trees, many of which are unique evergreen and deciduous specimens. Several berms and waterways were also excavated to create topographical contours and backdrops for displaying sculpture. A gazebo with a deck was constructed by the lotus pond to offer guests a quiet place to sit and enjoy a snack during the warmer months. There is even a helipad available for use!
Grounds For Sculpture’s continued growth as a leading art center, along with its burgeoning number of visitors, has led to further development, which includes an exciting restaurant, two cafés (one that is seasonal), a museum store, and a shop/gallery. The elegant, full-service gourmet restaurant, Rat’s, was added in 1999 at the northern end of the park. The Museum Shop, located in the Domestic Arts Building, features an assortment of items focusing on contemporary art and sculpture for both adults and children, and offers a large selection of art books. Merchandise related to the sculpture park’s history, its buildings, and the New Jersey State Fair – which was introduced in honor of the park’s 15th anniversary – is also available. Located adjacent to Rat’s, the Toad Hall Shop & Gallery opened its doors in 2002 and is where you can buy exquisite jewelry, distinct creations by local and national artisans, and a changing selection of small-scale sculptures. The relatively new Seward Johnson Center for the Arts offers conference and catering facilities and also houses the park’s Visitor Center.
Grounds For Sculpture can arrange for special guided tours for schools and other student or adult groups to enjoy, though these are available by appointment only. Touch tours are also available for the visually impaired. For all special arrangements and more information you can contact the tour coordinator. There are also weekend drop-in tours (no reservations necessary) that are offered May through October and are scheduled at 11 am on Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays.
For more information on upcoming events, visit the park’s website.
Grounds For Sculpture is becoming increasingly popular as more members of the public discover its tranquil setting, engaging sculpture, and breathtaking beauty. It is a local attraction that most certainly promises to be an invigorating experience for people of all ages and backgrounds, so make your plans now to get swept away in a world of spectacular scenery and astounding art!
Grounds For Sculpture18 Fairgrounds RoadHamilton, NJ 08619(609) 586-0616www.groundsforsculpture.org
Admission and Schedules:
Adults – $12
Students(13+) and Seniors(65+) – $10
Children(6–12) – $8
Members and children ages 5 and under – Free
Tuesday – Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm
Closed Mondays except Memorial Day and Labor Day
From North and Central NJ/ NYC
Take the New Jersey Turnpike South to Exit 7A to 195 West (Trenton), Exit 60B/I-295 North (Princeton). Continue on I-295 North to Exit 65B/Sloan Avenue West. After exiting, stay in right lane for 2/10 of a mile, following signs for Grounds For Sculpture; take the jughandle to cross over Sloan Avenue. Go through the traffic light onto Klockner Road. Continue on Klockner Road to next traffic light and turn right onto East State Street Extension. Go 8/10 of a mile and make the second left onto Sculptors Way. Go another 2/10 of a mile and turn left into the main entrance of Grounds For Sculpture.
From Philadelphia and South: Take Interstate 95 North, across Scudders Falls Bridge (over Delaware River), to Interstate 295 South, to Exit 65B/Sloan Avenue West. After exiting, stay in right lane for 2/10 of a mile, following signs for Grounds For Sculpture, and take the jughandle to cross over Sloan Avenue. Go through the traffic light onto Klockner Road. Follow directions as stated above.
By Train: From New York Penn Station or Philadelphia 30th Street Station – take New Jersey Transit to the Hamilton stop (stop closest to Grounds For Sculpture) or Amtrak to the Trenton stop. Taxi ride is 5 minutes to Grounds For Sculpture.
Grounds For Sculpture encourages people to become volunteers to assist
in the Museum Shop and at the reception desk. Docents receive training
and provide guided tours through the museums and park to
schoolchildren, tour groups, and the general public. Call the volunteer
coordinator for more information.
As a park member, you will be the first to learn about new exhibition
openings, family programs, and special-event celebrations, and will
also be entitled to discounts and other privileges. In addition, you
will be supporting the artist programs that continue to make the park
the exciting and dynamic art institution it is.
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