Grounds for Sculpture
GOOD FOR: Ages 5-8

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:126 Sculptors Way, Hamilton, NJ
Hours:10 A.M. to 6 P.M. Tuesday through Sunday
Fee: Adults, $12; children ages 6 to 17, $5; children under age 5, free
Contact:; 609-586-0616

Bathrooms: Museum Building; Domestic Arts Building; Motor Exhibits Building; Seward Johnson Center for the Arts; Gazebo
Water/Snacks: Water fountains at the restrooms; snacks and sandwiches at the Gazebo Café and the Peacock Café; fine dining at Rat’s Restaurant

USGS Trenton East;

This outdoor museum invites kids to explore artwork and nature at the same time.

At Grounds For Sculpture, children can explore art in a beautifully landscaped arboretum.
Photo by: Cheryl and Williams de Jong-Lambert

“Please touch” is not a sign that often accompanies statues, but many of the 258 works at the Grounds For Sculpture (GFS) have that invitation, making this an excellent place for children to explore art and the outdoors. This 42-acre public sculpture park, located on the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds, is equal parts arboretum and outdoor art exhibit. Prides of peacocks wander freely about, adding an element of intrigue and grandeur to the place.

GFS is best approached with no specific route or goal in mind. Indeed, in the short film that you can watch in the Museum Building before entering the grounds, the curators encourage adults and children to do just that: go where a sculpture or garden draws you. It is a great place to let kids take the lead.

From the Museum Building parking lot, head toward the piece that inspires the most intrigue—the willowy metal butterfly to your left, for example, or the steel and granite cuckoo’s nest to your right. Circle around to the back of the building. There are clear paths to follow, but you can also walk across wellkept lawns to get up close and personal with King Lear or a granite interpretation of the Garden State. Most of this terrain is good for strollers. Kids can also stretch out on the grass near the sculpture of a young girl who is lying down writing in a notebook, or step into a lifesize re-creation of Claude Monet’s painting Terrace at Sainte-Adresse. From any one cluster of artworks, you will catch a glimpse of something else that might lure your group into a hedgerow tunnel, through a pine forest, or to the banks of a pond that has a thick fringe of ornamental grasses.

There is also a self-guided tree tour of the more than 100 species that now cover the plot. When landscape construction began in 1989, there were only 15 decrepit maple trees on the site. Now there are more than 2,000 trees, along with carefully cultivated botanical gardens. Several buildings from the fair era, which lasted from the 1920s to the 1970s, have been turned into a greenhouse, water garden, and the Museum Building visitor center.

Remember: Running through the grounds and climbing on the sculptures are not allowed.

Plan B:

If you are driving, Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park and Washington Crossing State Park are nearby alternatives for hikes, history, and riverfront activity.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Restaurants and shops are along Nottingham Way, which is south of GFS. Turn left on Sculptors Way, and then right or left on Nottingham Way.


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