Located in Fishtail, Montana, not far from Yellowstone National Park, Tippet Rise is home to sculptures by Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero and Francis Kéré. It is also home to a herd of cattle and a flock of sheep. In addition to being a working farm, Tippet Rise hosts a robust program of classical music in a wood-framed “music barn.” But the main attraction is the sculptures, which are spread over 12,500 hectares. Founders Cathy and Peter Halstead felt it was important that each sculpture be placed in its own niche to give the viewer a seamless experience with the art. “We want to make the invisible visible through art, to give people the freedom to connect, to inspire, to dream,” says Cathy Halstead.

art installation of wavy volumes adjacent to the wooden school
“I like to work a lot,” says sculptor Patrick Dougherty. “I think of my sculptural works as big drawings, where you can use your whole body instead of just your hand,” he explains. “[Cursive Takes a Holiday] symbolizes a more dynamic way of learning than school itself, which is based on math, reason, and utility, and that is based on chance and moment-by-moment creative effort.” COURTESY RISE TIPPETT ART CENTER/JAMES FLORIO. PHOTO BY JAMES FLORIO

One of the artists Tippet Rise has given the freedom to dream is Patrick Dougherty. his part, Cursive takes a breakis a companion to his 2015 sculpture Dreams of the sunboth made from thousands of woven willow branches inside a reproduction of a 19th-century schoolhouse, the latter was the first sculpture built at the art center. Cursive takes a break it also extends from the schoolhouse, creating rooms for visitors to explore. Created from thousands of willow branches collected from a nearby stream bed and bent and woven into shape, the structures take otherworldly forms.

Other installations include Beartooth portal (2016), Inverted portal (2016), and indispensa (2016) a series of pieces by Ensemble Studio, the Spanish architecture and sculpture practice led by Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa. Each of the three parts was made by creating molds in the ground to pour large amounts of cement.

Visitors looking for shade and shelter in the rugged terrain can find it at Xylem (2019), an installation by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Francis Kéré. A pavilion by a shady stream was assembled from spear pines that had been felled by a beetle infestation.

cement cube building with wooden walkway

The Glenstone, a contemporary art museum in Potomac, Maryland, is not an exclusively outdoor experience, but aims to curate “art, architecture and nature in a quiet and contemplative setting.” This summer they debuted a new home pavilion Four rounds: Equal weight, unequal mass (2017), a massive sculpture by Richard Serra. Designed by New York-based architect Thomas Phifer in collaboration with the artist, the pavilion is a concrete box lit from above by skylights that span the width of the roof. It’s just a kind of spare and foreboding place, perfect for thinking about weight and measurement.

The project expands on Glenstone’s existing architectural language defined by simple white forms emerging from a lush, wooded landscape. Other buildings on the site include Phifer’s 2018 Pavilions, a cluster of cubic masonry buildings arranged around a central reflecting pool, and the Gallery, a 2006 building by Charles Gwathmey. The new pavilion is located next to a forest stream and is accessible via an elevated walkway, allowing visitors to experience a sharp juxtaposition of natural and man-made forms.

mirroring the new input sequence
Introducing the new Storm King Arts Center welcome sequence. Background right: Alexander Calder, The Arch, 1975. Purchase Fund and Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation © 2021 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. © STORM KING ART CENTER

At the Storm King Art Center, which was founded in 1960, much-needed additions are underway. The museum has embarked on a $45 million capital plan to build a new entryway and art storage building to better serve the museum’s growing audience, artist community and staff.

A collaboration between Dublin-based heneghan peng architects, WXY architecture and landscape architecture firms Gustafson Porter + Bowman and Reed Hilderbrand, the entrance sequence will include centralized parking, visitor orientation and information, accessible toilets and gathering spaces in the group. Native plantings will surround and guide visitors through an “outdoor lobby”—a semi-protected area where visitors can pick up tickets, use restrooms, and learn about the museum and its programming. The plan would also make the 500-acre campus car-free, except for strollers, golf carts and rolling vehicles.

Scheduled for completion in 2024, the project will include the first purpose-built buildings on Storm King and will help accommodate more visitors. Amy Weisser, vice director of strategic planning and projects, says, “Increasing participation is absolutely something we’re looking for not for its own sake, but for the opportunity to share Storm King with more people.”

Its location in the Hudson Valley, less than two hours from Manhattan, made the museum a popular refuge and socially distanced activity during the pandemic. “When we reopened in July 2020, we saw a real interest from the audience and reflected that people were actually staying longer than they normally would because of the quite unique opportunity it offered to be in a safe space,” he says Weisser. A quick look at Instagram confirms this – there are over 270,000 posts geotagged to the museum’s location. There are selfies with iconic sculptures, including new works by Wangechi Mutu, humorous photographs of artworks and images of landscapes and wildflower meadows.

That’s the thing about an outdoor museum, it offers something for everyone.

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