Exploring a Hudson Valley Gem: Storm King Art Center

Since COVID has mostly stabilized in New York, we’ve felt much more comfortable lately getting out and about the city and surrounding areas. That said, we’re still sticking entirely to outdoor activities where it’s easier for us to social distance. And so, last weekend we decided to enjoy an outdoor adventure at the lovely Storm King Art Center. Nestled in the Hudson Valley, Storm King not only has a magnificent collection of sculptures but it is surrounded by stunning natural beauty as well!

About the Storm King Art Center

The Storm King Art Center sprawls across 550 acres in Cornwall, NY, which is located about an hour and a half from NYC. Founded in 1960, the Center is surrounded by rolling hills and mountains, which are especially beautiful in autumn when the beautiful fall colors light up the landscape. Within the Center’s borders, there are long meadows, ponds, lovely wooded areas with hiking trails, and beautiful patches of wildflowers scattered about.

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Storm King Art Center’s South Fields

The Storm King Art Center specializes in modern and contemporary art, and their current collection is expansive. To get a taste of what they have on display, you can search their collection by artist or by the title of a specific piece. You can even search by decade if you’re looking for something from a certain time period.

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Iliad, Alexander Liberman

They also have special exhibitions throughout the year, some of which include items that are simply on loan and will not become part of the permanent collection. Keep an eye on their exhibitions list in case something is coming to the Center that you’ll only be able to enjoy for a limited time.

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Endless Column, Tal Streeter
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Mahatma, Mark di Suvero

Finally, there are indoor galleries, a visitor center, and museum as well, but all of these are currently closed due to COVID, making a visit to Storm King a fully outdoor experience at the moment. If you’d like to enjoy all that Storm King has to offer, you will want to postpone your visit until after COVID restrictions are lifted. In the meantime, though, I assure you there is plenty to see and enjoy outdoors!

Visiting Storm King Art Center

Storm King now requires all guests to buy tickets in advance since their capacity is limited due to COVID restrictions. Tickets are currently being released in two-week blocks for timed-entry visits (you have to arrive within your assigned hour-long entry block). If you don’t see a date available that means tickets have been sold out for that day. You’ll need to purchase tickets on a per-car basis, with a maximum of 6 guests per car (the ticket price does get cheaper the more guests per car, though).

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Mon Père, Mon Père, Mark di Suvero

On the day of our visit, we were first sent to a ticket-check area where we displayed our barcode against our closed car window. They scanned it through the window and we were sent off to park. Once inside the grounds, there are three separate parking areas, and we were directed to the one right next to the museum, which is located pretty much in the center of the grounds. (There are restrooms here as well!)

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North South East West, Lynda Benglis

From here, we consulted the Center map and then set out first for the North Woods. From there, we worked in a clockwise direction, passing through Museum Hill next, then onto the South Fields, and finally to the Meadows which brought us back near our car.

Since Storm King is so expansive, you will want to give yourself at least 2-3 hours for your visit. It was pushing 90 degrees the day we visited, but we tried to find shade where we could and still ended up staying for more than two hours. Just remember your sunscreen and lots of water! Also, your ticket is rain or shine, so toss an umbrella or poncho in your car, too, if it looks like it might rain.

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No rain for our visit. It was hot, hot, HOT!

In the North Woods, there are…well…woods. We enjoyed strolling through here mainly because it offered shade and a cool breeze (sometimes). It also offered some gnats, though, so consider bringing some bug spray along with you. Within the woods themselves, there is a nice hiking trail, but there isn’t as much art. If you’ve never been to Storm King and don’t have a lot of time to visit, I’d avoid the trails so that you can see more of the sculptures.

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Walking the Moodna Creek trail in the North Woods
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No art along the trail per se, but we did think this tree actually looked like a piece of art!

The South Fields is probably my favorite section of Storm King, and it also happens to be the largest. Here you’ll find the Three-Legged Buddha sculpture, which always tends to have a crowd taking photos. The South Fields also has a couple ponds, both of which are home to some of the Center’s artwork.

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Three Legged Buddha, Zhang Huan
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Ouch!
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This stone fence weaves in and out of the trees in the South Fields…
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…and then it ends right in the pond!
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Mermaid, Roy Lichtenstein
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Pyramidian, Mark di Suvero
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Figolu, Mark di Suvero

Back in the Meadows, you’ll find an elevator that will take you back up to the museum if you are too worn out to take the stairs. Here you’ll find vending machines, too, which not only have snacks and drinks but also have things like face masks, hand sanitizer, ponchos, and more!

There is a cafe on-site, which is currently closed, but you can still order to-go boxes that you can pick up during your visit. Just be sure to place you order at least 24 hours in advance so they know what to prepare. You can even order wine and beer to go with your lunch! Or, if you prefer, you can bring a picnic with you and enjoy your lunch at one of several picnic areas throughout the grounds.

Normally there is a tram that carries guests throughout the Center, but it’s presently out of service due to COVID. If you decide to bring kids or less mobile guests, just be aware that you will be doing A LOT of walking, much of it in the sun, and you’ll need to cover a bit of ground to get from one section of the Center to the next.

After Your Visit

Before you leave the area, don’t head straight home! There is still fun to be had once you’ve had your fill at Storm King. You can go for a hike at Harriman State Park or, if you’re feeling less athletic, make a quick stop at West Point instead to enjoy a treat at the Ice Cream Shoppe on Main Street. If you have lots of time left to your day, you could even consider tacking on a tour out to nearby Bannerman Island.

Or you can do what we did after our visit and find the Moodna Viaduct. Only about 4 miles from Storm King, the Moodna Viaduct is a massive iron railroad trestle that was built in the early 1900s and is now used by Metro-North trains on the Port Jervis Line.

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Moodna Viaduct

It’s more than 3,000 feet long and nearly 200 feet tall at its highest point! You can park right underneath and walk a trail alongside it or simply stand below while a train passes overhead. It’s so close to Storm King that it’s worth checking out really quickly, even if just to hop out and take a few photos and continue on your merry way.

***

I hope you’ll have an opportunity to visit the Storm King Art Center, especially now that the temperatures have started cooling off a bit. The first time we visited was in the fall when the trees were all full of their beautiful autumn colors. Leaf-peeping is very popular in the Hudson Valley, so if you do plan to visit in the fall, you’ll need to be quick on those ticket reservations!

And if you really enjoy sculptures in general, consider Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ for your next outing.

Have you ever visited Storm King? Let me know what thought about your own visit!

Plan Your Own Visit

Where to Go

When to Go

  • Storm King is presently open Wednesday-Monday (closed Tuesday) from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm
  • Check their website in advance of your visit for any seasonal or COVID-related updates to hours.

Tips for Visiting

  • Due to COVID restrictions, you MUST buy your tickets in advance if you wish to visit Storm King. Tickets are available for timed entry, and you must arrive within the hour-long block for your reservation.
  • Tickets are released in two-week blocks on Wednesdays and they sell out quickly. If you do not see your preferred day listed that means those tickets have already sold out.
  • The cafe is currently closed, but you can pre-order boxed lunches (including wine and beer!) for pickup as long as you order at least 24 hours in advance. You’re also welcome to bring your own picnic to enjoy in one of the designated picnic locations throughout the grounds.
  • Some of the restrooms at the museum were open, but most of the portable restrooms around the grounds had “Out of Order” signs on them. You may want to call in advance or ask a staff member on-site which restrooms will be available during your visit.
  • Storm King is very expansive and there isn’t a lot of shade as you travel throughout the grounds. Bring sunscreen and lots of water!
  • We also encountered a lot of gnats while roaming around – bring some bug spray to keep the annoying little guys away.
  • There’s a lot to see at Storm King! Use the map to ensure you cover all the nooks and crannies during your visit.

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