Grounds for Sculpture
Grounds For Sculpture is a 42-acre (170,000 m2) sculpture park and museum located in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States, on the former site of the New Jersey State Fairgrounds. Founded in 1992 by John Seward Johnson II, the venue was intended to be dedicated to promoting an understanding of and appreciation for contemporary sculpture by organizing exhibitions, publishing catalogues, and offering a variety of educational programs and special community events.
In July 2000, it became a nonprofit organization open to the public. Operation revenues for the park come from visitors, art patrons, donations, and grants.
The grounds have over two hundred and seventy large-scale contemporary sculptures, with works by Johnson and other American and international artists. The park's outdoor collection grows by fifteen sculptures annually.
On April 8, 2014 after three years in Chicago and Palm Springs, California, and after a cross-country journey via a flatbed truck which made photo-op stops along the route, “Forever Marilyn” arrived back where it was created. The 26-foot-tall sculpture will be reassembled and become the centerpiece of the Grounds for Sculpture’s retrospective exhibit honoring Seward Johnson to be held May through September in 2014.
Rat's Restaurant, located on the grounds, is available for dining. Rat's Restaurant was conceptually designed by Johnson, with an Impressionist Claude Monet-styled atmosphere. The restaurant scenery features Johnson's own impressionist-inspired sculptures, as well as a lily pond and bridge. It is named after the character "Ratty" from Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows.
In 1984, J. Seward Johnson, sculptor and philanthropist, envisioned a public sculpture garden and museum in Hamilton, NJ. His desire was to make contemporary sculpture accessible and offer people from all backgrounds the opportunity to become comfortable with contemporary art. Grounds For Sculpture was conceived as a place where audiences could experience sculpture in a familiar, accessible, and informal setting.
Construction on the sculpture park began in 1989 on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds; Grounds For Sculpture opened to the general public in 1992. Since its inception, the park is now exhibiting over 270 works, including sculptures by renowned artists Clement Meadmore, Anthony Caro, Beverly Pepper, Kiki Smith, and New Jersey sculptor George Segal. Some of the works were commissioned specifically for the sculpture park, such as Magdalena Abakanowicz’s Space of Stone and New Jersey artist Isaac Witkin’s Garden State. Work on the park and sculpture acquisitions were financed by public tax-exempt bonds and private foundations associated with founder J. Seward Johnson.
Since 2000, Grounds For Sculpture is a public not-for-profit corporation with a Board of Trustees overseeing the successful operation of the sculpture park and museum. As a not-for-profit and public institution, Grounds For Sculpture relies on the support of visitors, art patrons, donations and grants to offer its rich programs and activities each year.
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