Day Trip: Storm King Art Center

Very large sculpture is Storm King’s signature

Open-air museum celebrates modern sculpture

By Kevin E. Foley

The most direct way to get to the Storm King Art Center from Philipstown is in a kayak across the Hudson and then a climb over the mountain whose name it carries, and a walk down the other side for several miles. For most a car is the more practical choice, particularly if you have children accompanying you.

And while an art museum might not resonate with kids as an ideal summer diversion, this one should definitely be an exception, once they arrive. Storm King is an expansive, outdoor celebration of giant, ambitious sculpture and landscape conceptions accented throughout by smaller pieces.

Think dinosaurs or Transformers running loose on the earth, if a visit requires imaginative persuasion. On the way in the car you can have a discussion on how our perceptions of art change when we call things alive instead of abstract. At Storm King, amidst the trees, ponds, mountains and waving grasses, the art is definitely alive and subject to a thousand interpretations.  One thing for sure, most will not soon forget the visit.

Many interpretations are possible

No matter which way you walk or ride, whether you prepare in advance or just go with the flow, the sculpture of artists such as David Smith, Mark di Suvero and Louise Bourgeois will captivate, provoke, mystify and charm most visitors. Docents are on duty to introduce the center and some works with brief scheduled tours. The visitor center offers books and information. Special events such as concerts are also scheduled. Check the website for updates: stormking.org.

Fun for the whole family

Located just west of Cornwall, the center is nestled among 500 woodland acres bordered by Schunnemunk State Park, which together create a natural wonderland worth beholding for its own sake. This is a place for walking, a lot of walking, to get the most from the way the curators have carefully situated the art around the grounds.  So leave plenty of time for your visit.  For those who find walking difficult or just slow, a tram runs through the Center all day with various pick-up points and adult bicycles and helmets can be rented. (You cannot bring your own bikes.)

View from Storm King Highway

Picnics in designated areas are a nice complement to a Storm King visit. You can pack your own or enjoy the cafí©, which is now run by Garrison’s own Fresh Company. Admission to the center is $12 for adults and $8 for children and college students, with youngsters under 5 admitted free. The center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday until April 3 through December 1.

Storm King complements its permanent installation of sculpture with a variety of special exhibitions. These may comprise large-scale sculptures sited in outdoor galleries defined by sky and landscape, or smaller works and supporting materials shown in the Museum Building. Exhibitions include both works from Storm King’s permanent collection and loans from artists, private collectors, galleries, and museums. Special exhibitions include Thomas Houseago: As I Went Out One Morning, showing through Nov. 11, 2013, and David Brooks, a Proverbial Machine in the Garden, which runs through Dec. 1, 2013.

You can use either the Newburgh-Beacon or the Bear Mountain Bridge to get to Storm King.  One suggestion is take the northern route to get there, then return to Philipstown going south through Cornwall along Route 218, also known as the Storm King Highway, and take in the spectacular view of the river, the Highlands and Cold Spring. If fortune smiles, the tiny overlook about halfway around the mountain will be free of other visitors and you can stop to really take in the view.

Photos by K. E. Foley