5 best sculpture parks from around the world

In woodlands and jungles, along coastlines, and on mountaintops, sculpture has long been integrated into the world around us. However, we often think of sculptural viewing as an indoor experience, placed throughout museums and galleries. But in recent decades the concept of sculpture parks have taken off.

Sculpture parks, while not a new concept, have a longer history. For centuries collectors and artists have brought together monumental sculptures, placing them against nature and hoping the allure of art and environment will attractive visitors.

The best sculptures parks around the world let you enjoy world-class art while strolling in nature. Typically focused on modernist and contemporary artists, most have both permanent and rotating collections for unique experiences year-round. With so many sculpture parks around the world, it’s hard to decide which to visit. However, lets take a look at the top five sculpture parks that prove you can travel the world to see great art without ever stepping indoors.

Top 5 sculpture parks

Top 5 sculpture parks: Ekebergparken Sculpture Park
‘The Couple’ by Louise Bourgeois. Photo: Ekebergparken / © Ivar Kvaal

Ekebergparken Sculpture Park

Oslo, Norway

This park is located just outside Oslo’s city centre. It was financed by art collector Christian Ringes and opened in 2013. Work by Louise Bourgeouis, Salvador Dalí, and Jenny Holzer are just some of the masterpieces in this incredible collection of modern and contemporary sculpture

Top 5 sculpture parks: The Gardens of Bomarzo
Orcus mouth. Photo: Alessio Damato via Wikimedia Commons

The Gardens of Bomarzo

Bomarzo, Italy

Lovingly referred to as the Park of Monsters, the Gardens of Bomarzo lie in a stretch of forest at the foot of a castle north of Rome. They were designed for Pier Francesco Orsini, a patron of the arts in the mid-16th century. Designed by the architect Pirro Ligorio, the park features fantastical sculptures of sirens, mythological beasts, nymphs, dragons, and giant fruits. Perhaps one of the strangest works of art is the great gaping mouth of Orcus; one of the gods of the underworld.

Top 5 sculpture parks: Hakone Open-Air Museum
‘Wood of Nets’ (2009) by Twzuka Architects. Photo: Sizuken

Hakone Open-Air Museum

Hakone, Japan

The Hakone Open-Air Museum opened in 1969 as the first open-air art museum in Japan and is known for its spectacular views of Mount Fuji. The sculpture park features a large collection of works by British master Henry Moore, as well as 100 other works of modern and contemporary sculpture by Japanese and international artists.

Every fall in Northern Japan, you can also check out the giant straw animals as part of the Wara Art Festival.

Top 5 sculpture parks: Yorkshire Sculpture Park
‘Spiegel’ by Jaume Plensa. Photo: Steve Cottrell

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

West Breton, England

Yorkshire Sculpture Park lies in the magnificent landscaped 500-acre grounds of Bretton Hall near Wakefield in northern England. It was the first sculpture park in the UK, opening in 1977 as a gallery without walls. Artists with strong links to this part of Yorkshire like Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore are often on show, as well as Ai Weiwei, Andy Goldsworthy, Anthony Caro, Antony Gormley and Leo Fitzmaurice. The park is open free of charge and visitors can even bring along their dogs to enjoy the art.

Top 5 sculpture parks: Kröller-Müller Museum
‘Jardin d’email’ by Jean Dubuffet. Photo: Alamy

Kröller-Müller Museum

Arnhem, Netherlands

Best known for its Van Gogh collection, the Kröller-Müller Museum is in the Hoge Veluwe national park. Its sculpture garden is one of the largest in Europe, with more than 160 sculptures in 25 hectares of landscaped hills and valleys. The collection includes work from the 19th century to the present, from artists including Barbara Hepworth, Aristide Maillol, Jean Dubuffet and Marta Pan. Two restored pavilions, by Gerrit Rietveld and Aldo van Eyck, house some of the collection.