Let’s get the important part out of the way first. You need to go to the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. Immediately. And then you should go back many, many times like we are planning on doing with our new, sweet membership.
I had thought quite a few times over the past two years about visiting the grounds with our rowdy crew, but something about it made me nervous. Maybe the pictures on the website looked a bit too peaceful, like there was a respectful hush cast over the place that we would immediately destroy upon arrival. I know that I have brought my boys into a glass factory and all, but sculptures out in the open with no barriers or cranky guards to scare them straight seemed like a recipe for family discord.
I am so grateful that we decided to throw caution to the wind and visit this past weekend. There was absolutely nothing precious about the Grounds for Sculpture. The whole place was child-friendly without being childish. From the guard at the gate who gave us a friendly run down of the daily events, to Patricia in the Visitors’ Center who helped us pick out the right membership for our family, there was a welcoming, down to earth beauty that infused the grounds.
We spent hours there even though it was January and at times the wind seemed to pass through our warm layers.
There were other visitors, but it seemed we had the whole place to ourselves.
I had never considered before how perfect large-scale sculptures are as an introductory form of art for young children. The three dimensional and large scale nature of the pieces forced my mini tornadoes to stop and take note. At times they would stop in their tracks and just stare at a piece and I could only wonder what was passing through their minds and hearts.
All of the works of art are labeled with green or red tags depending on whether visitors may touch them or not. This was an easy system for our boys to embrace, and in no time they were running up to a sculpture, looking for the tag, and then announcing to us if they had permission to ‘experience’ the art.
We had a warm, delicious lunch at the Peacock Cafe (Wes approved heartily of the chicken pot pie), and then we watched the ice sculpting that was taking place at various places around the grounds.
A bit of hopscotch around the water elements, and we were ready to head home.
I know we will be going back throughout the winter. I will be watching the weather religiously looking for those 50 degree days, now designated for the Grounds of Sculpture. Even better, I know that it will be stunning in the spring, summer, and fall as well.
We love to travel, but we love our home at the Jersey Shore as well. It is always exciting when you find a new favorite spot in your own backyard.