Art & Culture Travel

The World’s Best Destinations For Public Art

Words by Anaïs Lellouche

17 July 2020


Anaïs Lellouche walks through ten of her favourite public art spaces and sculpture parks around the world.

Sculpture parks are the Garden of Eden for art lovers. International curator Anais Lellouche whets our appetite for future travel by exploring her top ten favourite art destinations and sculpture parks around the world.

Ranging from local gems, like the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in England, to art pilgrimage destinations, such as the Naoshima ‘art island,’ famous for its Tadao Ando architecture, this is the hit list you will not want to miss as you plan your next art-inspired getaway.

Damien Hirst The Virgin Mother 2005 6 Damien Hirst and Science Ltd Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, England

At YSP, you will enter 500 acres of woodland, lakes and gardens, providing an arcadian setting for Britain’s finest sculpture park. For over 40 years, YSP has been the home of avant-garde sculpture, from modern masters such as Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore to contemporary icons including Alfredo Jaar, Joanna Vasconcelos and Ai Weiwei. There are more than 80 works on display, so keep an eye on their blockbuster exhibition programmes and mark your calendars for repeat visits.

Image: Damien Hirst, The Virgin Mother, 2005-6. © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates. Courtesy of Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Firmament Antony Gormley 2008 Photo Allan Pollok Morris Courtesy Jupiter Artland2

Jupiter Artland, Scotland

A stones-throw away from beautiful Edinburgh is the award-winning sculpture park Jupiter Artland. Founded in 2009 and featuring robust educational and learning programmes, Jupiter is on a mission to spark inspiration in each its visitors.

In a fertile decade, Jupiter has given rise to 35 site-specific commissions by an international group of art visionaries. The works are long labours of love; it took eight years for the Scottish artist Charles Jenks to realise his magnum opus Life Mounds. In the summer, take a special dive in Joanna Vasconcellos’ pool Gateway, adorned with horoscopes and colourful lines mirroring the roots of land.

Image: Antony Gormley, Firmament, 2008. Photo: Allan Pollok Morris. Courtesy Jupiter Artland.

Jeppe Hein

Fondation Carmignac, France

On the southern tip of France, on the nature reserve island of Porquerolles, shines the Fondation Carmignac. Opened in 2018 the Foundation sits amidst 15 acres of parkland, surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea.

As you take a stroll in this Provençal paradise, you will discover outdoor works by Ed Ruscha, Ugo Rondinone and Jaume Plensa. The experience continues inside the Foundation, through curated exhibitions of the collection, group shows by pioneering contemporary artists and the Carmignac Prize for Photojournalism.

Image: Jeppe Hein, Path of Emotions, 2018. © Jeppe Hein - Photo : Marc Domage. Courtesy Fondation Carmignac.

9252937782 d9a969d30c 5k

The Museum of Old and New Art, Australia

Since opening in 2009, the Museum of Old and New Art, led by the enigmatic local David Walsh, has established Hobart, Tasmania as a coveted, global art destination. To get to the museum, hop on the decked-out MONA Ferry and feel the art wonderland come progressively within reach. Explore the trail of uncanny works spread on the grounds, including Wim Delvoye’s Chapel, Oliver Beer’s Confessional and dine in MONA’s Pharo, featuring James Turrell’s Unseen Seen.

Stay overnight in the MONA Pavilions and take a night stroll to see at Ryoji Ikeda’s tracing light beam, Spectra. Plan a return visit once MONA’s new hotel opens up, it will be worth the mileage.

Image: Wim Delvoye, Chapel, 2010 – 2011. Photo: MONA/Rémi Chauvin.Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

DJI 0168 1

Gibbs Farm, New Zealand

Visiting Gibbs Farm requires some planning—but is worth every effort. Book well ahead as the park is only open to the public on selected days each month. Located in Kaipara Harbour, outside of Auckland, you will find yourself in an unreal world, where lamas and ostriches coexist with commissions by Anish Kapoor, Richard Serra and Daniel Buren.

Gibbs Farm has grown organically over two decades and has offered artists grounds to create their most ambitious works to date. The works espouse the landscape and sublimate it, a hard to conceive feat given the beauty of the harbour that delineates the land. Listening to the wind blowing inside Anish Kapoor’s 85-meter longhorn is an experience you won’t forget.

Image: Maya Lin, A Fold in the Field, 2013. Photo: David Hartley. Image Courtesy the artist and Gibbs Farm, New Zealand.

Ghada Amer The Words I Love the Most 2012 Robert Berg 01

The Donum Estate, US

Fine art and wines are a match made in California heaven. For the owner Allan Warburg, it was a natural alliance as art and wine both have the ability to ‘connect people across cultures.’

Since 2014, The Donum Estate, a vineyard renowned for its exquisite Pinot Noir, has also made headlines for its ambitious art collection.

Over 40 significant works of art grace the hills of the Sonoma Valley estate. Resolutely global, the sculpture collection favours works that celebrate cultural diversity, including Ghada Amer’s work with Arabic script The Words I Love the Most, and Ai Weiwei’s group of twelve Zodiac Heads elevated on sticks, highlighting the deep belief in the forces of destiny in Chinese culture.

Image: Ghada Amer, The Words I Love the Most, 2012. Photo: Robert Berg. Courtesy of The Donum Estate.

Moataz Nasr Wooden Crystal 2013 MACAAL

Al Maaden Sculpture Park, Morocco

The Al Maaden Sculpture Park is situated on the hills of Marrakech, offering spectacular views of the Atlas Mountains. Inaugurated in September 2013, Al Maaden Sculpture Park features monumental sculptures by Moroccan and international artists, created in response to the site. This first significant contribution gave way to the implementation of a sister institution, the Musée d’Art Contemporain Africain Al Maaden (MACCAL).

Through ambitious and exceptional programmes highlighting contemporary African art, MACAAL and the Al Maaden sites, have carved a space for Morocco on the culture global map and made it a must-see art destination on the continent.

Image: Moataz Nasr, Wooden Crystal, 2013 © MACAAL


NMAC Foundation, Spain

Nested on the Southern tip of Spain, 50 km from Cádiz, is the NMAC Foundation, where contemporary art lives in harmony with nature. The landscape composed of a pine forest and 100 metre-high cliffs provide a spectacular stage for Marina Abramovíc’ Human Nests.

The site offers more than 40 commissions by ascending Spanish artists alongside international art stars, from Jacobo Castellano, Olafur Eliasson, James Turrell and more. NMAC Foundation provides robust education, public and artist in residence programmes, aiming to foster social interaction.

Image: James Turrell, Second Wind, 2005. Photo: Florian Holzherr. Courtesy Fundación NMAC.

NB 011

Benesse Art Site, Japan

Visiting Benesse Art Site is a must. Reaching one of the world's most famous art destinations on Naoshima Island involves two trains and a ferry—but it's worth it.

Benesse Art Site is dedicated to the co-existence of art, architecture and the unique nature of the Seto Inland Sea. Since opening in 1992, the site has grown to some 20 buildings on Naoshima and the adjacent islands of Tashima and Inujima. The famous Japanese Architect Tadao Ando has built refined shrines for the art on display, including Benesse House Museum, Chichu Art Museum and the Lee Ufan Museum.
A stellar line up of outdoor works welcomes you, including by Japanese artists Yayoi Kusama, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Lee Ufan, alongside international visionaries such as Christian Boltanski, Niki de Saint Phalle and James Turrell. These contemplative works are displayed under open skies, subject to the transformations incurred by the forces of nature.

Take a couple of days to stay on-site and sleep at the Benesse House Hotel; request room 2201 to experience the specially commissioned sound piece by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. Catch the sunset from the pier, sitting next to Yayoi Kusama's iconic yellow dotted pumpkin—it has been there since 1994 and is the gatekeeper of this magical place.

Image: Yayoi Kusama, Pumpkin, 1994. Photo: Masaaki Miyazawa. Courtesy Benesse Art Site, Naoshima, Japan.

Lead images: James Turrell, AMARNA, 2015. Copyright James Turrell. Photo: MONA/Rémi Chauvin. Image Courtesy MONA Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

Niki de Saint Phalle, Le Banc, 1989. Photo: Shigeo Anzai. Courtesy Benesse Art Site, Naoshima, Japan.

For more information on the parks or works mentioned above, please contact your lifestyle manager or the experts at Quintessentially's Art division.

More to explore

Art & Culture

The 60th La Biennale di Venezia: review

Our in-house art specialist gives her take on the Biennale before the official opening on 20th April.

Read more
Art & Culture

The book that’s covered in a thousand diamonds – and looks a million dollars

A bookbinder, a birdcage, and Bentley & Skinner: this is the story of the $1.5 million rebirth of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Read more
Art & Culture

Discover Dubai’s art hotspots

If you’re visiting Art Dubai, make time to check out these permanent galleries around the city whilst you’re there.

Read more
Quintessentially Noted GIF


Stay in the know with our monthly newsletter – a complimentary edit of everything new and noteworthy in the luxury world.

Loading Loading

By signing up to the newsletter you confirm you have read & agree to the Privacy Policy.

Make an enquiry