Now that my daughter is in college, we don’t get to spend as much time as we wanted to but when we do it’s always a moment. Today, we ventured into a not so distant fairytale-like garden in Hamilton, New Jersey. It’s called the Grounds for Sculpture by Seward Johnson. This place is really amazing! The last time I was here was when my daughter was just 9 yrs. old and I remember being so enthralled by the place like a child in a dream. It really feels like your Alice in Wonderland.
The Grounds for Sculpture is an outdoor museum created by american sculptor Seward Johnson. His life-like and monumental sculptures are known throughout the world. You probably have seen at least one or two in your city or in one of your travels. His “Forever Marilyn” probably attracts the most attention because, well…who doesn’t like Marilyn right? It’s not my personal favorite but hey, who doesn’t want a photo with that monumental figure in a white dress. His other popular ones are the “Unconditional Surrender” which is the sailor kissing a nurse, “God Bless America”, which is inspired by Grant Wood’s American Gothic and one of my personal favorites, and “Return Visit” which is President Lincoln with a man in his side.
Walking into the garden is like walking into a maze of lifelike sculptures made by different artists. As a matter of fact, right before you go into the main entrance you’re already mesmerized by sculptures which if seen from afar really look like real people. My daughter was creeped out at the first sight of this woman with grocery bags at the bus stop but as soon as we saw the little girl with a blanket right outside the main lobby, we were captivated once again. There are 270 or more sculptures scattered around the garden, almost doubled from the last time I visited and you find them in unexpected places. Some are exposed and some are hidden. Which makes it more fun! Every time you turn a corner or you see an opening, rest assured there’s a surprise waiting inside. My most favorite is Monet’s Bridge. There’s just something about that bridge that transports you into a different dimension so to speak. Since I love Impressionist art, my other favorites are of course the ones inspired by Impressionist artists like Monet and Manet.
Grounds for Sculpture is only 1 1/2 hours away from New York City by car. It’s so easy to get to and since it’s an outdoor museum it can get pretty hot in the summer or cold in the winter so choose the right day to go. They also limit the number of people inside the garden at any one time so call before you go specially on weekends. You should give yourself at least 3 hours to roam around the gardens and don’t rush. The property is huge so there’s a lot of walking involved so wear the right shoes. I find it more enjoyable if you take your time admiring these pieces of art and take a break and sit on a bench if you need to. There are benches everywhere and most of them are in shaded areas and almost always facing a great view. There are also peacocks running around free in the property! You usually find them near the Domestic Arts Building. There are also places to eat so you don’t have to worry about getting hungry. There are a couple of cafes to grab snacks and sandwiches and there’s Rat’s Restaurant which is more fancy and serves lunch and dinner and requires reservations.