Grounds for Sculpture

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18 Fairgrounds Road, Trenton, NJ, USA

Grounds for Sculpture Trenton Reviews

vances vances
575 reviews
Every body is here! Dec 30, 2014
Opening caution. I don’t dump a ton of photos into any blog entry or review, probably driven by my lousy photographic talent. However, this splendid venue deserves many more than I have posted, so I hope you find them enjoyable.

Grounds for Sculpture was begun in 1992 by Seward Johnson, a sculptor (and grandson of the founder of Johnson & Johnson). Seward has built a legacy of metal statues, most notably “Forever Marilyn” which was displayed in Chicago for several years. He has rendered a lot of bronze trompe l’oeil figures in everyday poses, deceptively appearing to be real. I was tickled to learn he was the artist who created the man reading a newspaper in Steinman Park in Lancaster, PA. That is where I grew up and I always enjoyed the piece with no clue as to who brought him to life.

Another notable was Seward’s “Double Check”, the depiction of a stock broker looking through his briefcase installed at the World Trade Center, which became an inspiration upon remaining as one of a select few objects intact after 9/11. During the recovery, “Double Check” became smothered with wreaths and mementos from people commemorating survivors of the tragedy.

Johnson started Grounds for Sculpture to promote understanding and appreciation of modern sculpture, and the park makes a remarkable effort towards that goal. Johnson purchased the old New Jersey State Fairgrounds and added on, featuring about three hundred sculptures spread out over twenty acres (? – I’m guessing – it is enormous). A number of facilities dot this landscape, and there is plenty more art within each.

There are several dining options on the grounds. Mark and I scored lunch (and warmed up) at the pleasant Peacock Café in the Domestic Arts Building. The Peacock is a nice lunch option, featuring soups, salads and sandwiches. We also passed by the Van Gogh Café in the Welcome Center, which appeared to be a vintage French café and bakery. The grandest dining option is Rat's Restaurant, a large standalone building which may be accessed without paying admission to the grounds (from the folks we talked to, Rat’s is a bona fide attraction as a local dining option). Rats sits right on a beautiful lake and has a lovely lily pond as well. The restaurant is named after "Ratty" from Kenneth Grahame's “The Wind in the Willows.”

Strolling about the grounds is fabulous. It would be easy to mistake many sculptures for real people, though we had it relatively easy since most statues were inappropriately dressed for the sub-freezing temperatures. Everything is wonderfully complemented by brilliant landscaping and I am sure it varies considerably with each season. Many sections are like little mazes, works of art secreted in every nook and cranny (this was Mark’s fourth visit and he is still discovering new things!).

Indoors they had temporary exhibits celebrating Michael Graves, which was splendid. We idled for several hours and could easily have enjoyed more, were it not for the biting cold. But that said, they even have a “warming hut” and one or two other petite buildings affording respite should Mother Nature be casting some nasty weather.

Admission is $15 for adults and well worth it. Because it is so popular they have had to limit the number of entrants to 2,500. That’s a lot of people and I have no idea how crowded the maximum might make it, but there really is a ton of space here and I suspect the ranks get evenly distributed. VERY strongly recommended!

*** footnote. This review is listed under "Trenton" (because I accepted an option TB presented), but true address = 80 Sculptures Way, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619.
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9 / 9 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
vances says:
Hamilton Township is just unincorporated area abutting Trenton to the west & northwest of the city. More or less the same space, but I wasn't sure which would come up if you tried to pin it down with GPS device...
Posted on: Jan 22, 2015
spocklogic says:
Interesting place. Where is Hamilton Township in relation to Trenton?
Posted on: Jan 21, 2015
cotton_foam says:
Congrats, Vance!!
Posted on: Jan 19, 2015
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photo by: vances