US sculpture parks shift seasonal programming as they grapple with state re-opening...

US sculpture parks shift seasonal programming as they grapple with state re-opening mandates


Sculpture parks may seem like ideal destinations to experience art in the era of social distancing, given their ample acreage. But outdoor art centres in states eligible to re-open their art and recreation industries are facing the implementation of strict guidelines on visitors. Sculpture parks in states still struggling to meet health guidelines are facing either significant modifications to their seasonal programmes or looming doubts on whether the 2020 season will even happen.

Storm King Art Center in the Hudson Valley region of New York—an area which has not met the state’s criteria for a phased re-opening following more than two months of coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown—was scheduled to inaugurate its 60th anniversary season in April. But it is unclear on when it will be allowed to open and has cancelled all public programmes and events until 30 June, including its venerable Summer Solstice celebration. “We are continuing to monitor the health situation to determine what will be possible in the late summer and fall,” says the president of the centre, John Stern.

When Storm King is finally allowed to open, it will focus on “an outdoor-only experience, limiting visiting numbers, distributing pre-purchased timed ticketing to allow for contactless check-in and limiting on-site visitor services”, according to Stern. When possible, there will be exhibitions by Kiki Smith and Martha Tuttle and loan presentations of Louise Bourgeois, and Mark di Suvero.

In Louisiana, which was a hotspot for the virus in March, the New Orleans Museum of Art’s Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden will introduce more stringent measures. The sculpture park, due to open 1 June, will operate at 25% capacity and will not allow social gatherings—a measure that will be monitored by attendants on-site. The park should be “visited alone or with those from your household,” according to a statement by the museum. Additionally, there will be special hours for senior citizens and immuno-compromised individuals, and face masks, which are required to be worn, will be available for purchase.

Until 31 December, frontline workers will be able to waive the park’s new $5 admission fee—a cost only recently introduced due to the “significant revenue loss the museum has suffered due to the Covid-19 crisis”, says the museum’s director, Susan Taylor.