Grounds for Sculpture makes a perfect daytrip for folks from anywhere in the Greater Philadelphia / South Jersey area. I have to admit that although I've lived in the area my whole life, I'd never ever heard of Grounds for Sculpture which has been around since 1992 on lands that once formed part of the New Jersey State Fairgrounds.
Brainchild of J. Seward Johnson, Jr.
Grounds for Sculpture was the brainchild of J. Seward Johnson, Jr., grandson of Robert Wood Johnson, the founder of Johnson & Johnson Corporation. Johnson, an accomplished sculptor in his own right, envisioned a public sculpture garden and museum where a large and varied body of sculpture could be exhibited.
His desire was to make sculpture accessible, to offer the opportunity to people from all backgrounds to become comfortable with contemporary art, and to provide related educational programs and events at this art center. The entire scope of the project included outdoor exhibition space and museum facilities in a serene, landscaped setting.
Johnson's goal was fulfilled beyond even his own expectations. I, for one, have never been a fan of modern sculpture, especially in the closed quarters of a stuffy museum setting. Yet, I loved the more than 230 sculptures that are displayed outdoors at Grounds for Sculpture. Somehow the natural setting really gives all of these works of art a life quite different than if they were displayed indoors.
The Park Today
A lot has changed since the garden opened in 1992. Grounds for Sculpture is now a public nonprofit corporation, Public Art Foundation, Inc., that counts on the support of visitors, art patrons, and grants to continue its growth as an outstanding art center.
Existing Fair Grounds buildings were renovated and one building relocated. The park itself was planted with more than two thousand rose bushes, rhododendrons and other flowering shrubs, and over one thousand trees - many of them unique evergreen and deciduous specimens. In addition, numerous berms, waterways and ponds were created to enhance the display of the outdoor sculpture.
In 1999 a wonderful, full-service restaurant with the interesting name of Rat's was constructed at the northern end of the sculpture park. In 2002, the Toad Hall Shop and Gallery was added adjacent to Rat's. Both are must stops on any visit to Grounds for Sculpture.
Today the park totals 35 acres making it a wonderful place to wander and explore without feeling at all crowded by fellow visitors.
10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Open year-round.
Closed Mondays except Labor Day and Memorial Day.
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day.
Also closed to the public for Members only events.
Admission PricesAdults - $10
Students (13+) and Senior (65+) - $8
Children (6-12) - $6
Members and Children (5 and under) - free
Individual Memberships are available for $55. Dual/Family Memberships are available for $90. Members receive free admission to the park.
From Philadelphia: Take Interstate 95 North, across Scudders Falls Bridge (over Delaware River), to Interstate 295 South to Exit 65B/Sloan Avenue West. After exit stay in right traffic lane for 2/10ths of a mile, following signs for Grounds For Sculpture, and take the jughandle to cross over Sloan Ave. Go through the traffic light onto Klockner Rd.
Take Klockner Rd. to next traffic light and turn right onto East State St. Extension. Go 8/10ths of a mile and make second left turn onto Sculptors Way. Go 2/10ths of a mile and turn left into the main entrance of Grounds For Sculpture. Travel time is approximately 45 minutes.
We have put together a photo gallery featuring some of our favorite sculptures at Grounds for Sculpture. We hope that these photos give you a better feel for the park and spark your interest to visit this wonderful gem.