Spread over 500 sprawling acres with more than 100 sculptures, both the grounds and the art of Storm King Art Center are impressive. They’re not-to-be-missed if you love art, nature and the outdoors. Our recent visit coincided with the peak of the fall foliage and we can’t wait to return in the spring.
This unique museum without walls is the largest outdoor sculptural art center for contemporary art in the U.S. and is one of the three largest in the world. Beyond its size and number of holdings, Smithsonian Magazine recognized Storm King as one of the most spectacular sculpture parks in the world.
Its artworks and natural setting draw visitors not only from the New York City metropolitan area but from around the world. If you are visiting Storm King Art Center, here are some things you’ll want to know:
Where is Storm King Art Center located?
Storm King Art Center is located in Mountainville, New York, a hamlet in the town of Cornwall in Orange County. Its name is derived from nearby Storm King Mountain.
The town is located in the state’s scenic Hudson Valley, a national heritage site, that encompasses 10 counties on the east and west banks of the Hudson River, just north of New York City.
What was its genesis?
Storm King, now more than 60 years old, first opened to the public in 1960. It was the brainchild of two successful local businessmen, Ralph E. Ogden and H. Peter Stern, owners of the Star Expansion Company, which made anchors and fasteners and employed more than 500 people.
A resident and generous benefactor of the town of Mountainville, Ogden gifted what is now the Museum Building and 250 acres of surrounding land to establish the non-profit. Although initially conceived as a museum showcasing Hudson River School paintings, the founders decided to pivot and create an outdoor museum of modern sculpture.
The first installations came from a purchase of 13 works from the estate of American sculptor, David Smith. Over time, Storm King purchased additional sculptures, and received others through bequests and on loan.
What sculptures will I get to see?
You actually can get a sneak peek because the Storm King website offers a catalog with photos of almost all the contemporary sculptures in the collection.
The monumental sculptures represent the works of some 160 artists spanning more than 100 years. This eclectic collection includes works by Alexander Calder, Maya Lin, Henry Moore, Roy Lichtenstein, and Mark di Suvero, among other renowned artists. The online catalog can be browsed by artist or by name of the work.
Storm King offers a Vimeo channel with recordings of performances, virtual visits, artist talks, and more.
While there are numerous photographs online and also many YouTube videos of Storm King, nothing compares to being able to walk the grounds and see the art framed by nature.
What are the grounds like?
The natural setting at Storm King is massive.
In 1985, Star Expansion donated another 2,300 acres on nearby Schunnemunk Mountain, which provides a majestic backdrop for many of the installations.
The property is divided into four parts, North Woods, Museum Hills, Meadows, and South Field, each serving as a virtual gallery for different pieces. Although the setting seems entirely natural, Storm King has carefully landscaped and manicured the hills, meadows, and forests to create perfect settings for each sculpture.
Visitors can meander along a paved roadway, over gravel paths, or through the fields to view the artworks from every perspective at their own pace.
How can I best get around?
Because there is so much ground to be covered at Storm King, visitors are able to add quite a few steps on their activity trackers. Other opportunities for outdoor activity include hiking on some of the trails running through the property and bicycling (rental bikes are available). For those who tire easily, many benches can be found along the way to rest and reflect.
A tram from the parking lot makes a one-hour circuit around Storm King. (Tram service starts at 11:10 AM and runs until one-half hour before closing. The tram ride offers riders a “lay of the land” so visitors can design their own itineraries based on their interests. Printed maps are provided for free on-site and can also be downloaded online. Visitors can board and exit at any of the six designated tram stops to see artworks up close.
Accessible guided driving tours are available for those with disabilities. In addition, wheelchairs and strollers can use the paved pathways.
Although most visitors stay an average of two hours, depending on the weather, your energy level, and/or time constraints, you may stay much longer and/or decide to return to visit again.
Sea Change, a kinetic sculpture at Storm King Art Center
When should I plan to visit Storm King?
In planning a visit, keep in mind that every visit to Storm King is likely to be different: Not only are there new acquisitions and temporary exhibits, but the beautiful setting changes dramatically with the seasons.
Rain or shine, Storm King is open from early April until late November, Wednesdays through Mondays (closed Tuesdays) from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. Note that all ticket sales are final, even in the case of inclement weather (unless weather conditions are extreme).
Reservations and timed tickets are required in advance; they are released in biweekly blocks. Some public libraries offer free and/or discounted tickets. Check the Storm King website for additional ticketing information.
(This past winter, the museum sponsored Winter Weekends during February and March that allowed visitors to witness the sculptures draped in snow.)
What is the best way to get there?
Driving is probably the most convenient way to get to Storm King; you’ll find ample parking when you arrive. Pricing is based on the number of people in the vehicle. The website also details instructions for arriving by train (Metro-North) and bus.
What else should I know about visiting Storm King Art Center?
- Storm King is extremely photogenic and personal photography is encouraged. You may want to bring an external charger for your cell phone.
- Do wear comfortable walking shoes. If you are sensitive to the sun, bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. If you plan to walk through the thick grasses, arm yourself with insect repellent.
- It’s prudent to bring a water bottle to stay hydrated, especially in summer. An outdoor cafe offers locally sourced sandwiches, chili and soups, snacks, and drinks (including beer and wine) for onsite purchase and pre-order pickup.
- Although COVID-19 policies are constantly evolving as more is learned about the virus and more people are vaccinated, all visitors (regardless of vaccination status) must wear masks in any indoor settings (e.g., Museum Building, restrooms, elevators), on the tram, and at any other place where six-foot social distancing can’t be maintained.
- Because the grounds are so vast, they are never crowded. But it’s prudent to arrive early both to avoid traffic and also because there tend to be fewer visitors earlier in the day.
- The best bathrooms are in the Museum Building.
Storm King Trivia
Did you know?
Dev, played by Azi Ansari visited Storm King on Episode 9 of the second season of the Netflix series, Master of None.
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IF YOU GO
See my posts on Forbes:
- Winter Weekends at Storm King: World-Class Sculptures Outdoors
- Storm King Art Center: Art Framed by Nature