Located in New York’s Hudson Valley, just three miles from Cornwall, Storm King Art Center (stormking.org/) isn’t your ordinary art gallery. For starters it’s located on a 500-acre parcel dotted with meadows, ponds, hills, and forests that offer a taste of the natural beauty and diversity of the area. Add in some 120 small-scale and larger-than-life sculptures in a variety of mediums, and you have one of the region’s largest — and most diverse — outdoor sculpture parks. And although there are a few hills and rocky spots in certain parts of the landscape, Storm King Art Center still makes a very doable outing for wheelchair-users and slow walkers.
Walk or Ride — The Choice is Yours
The best plan of action is to to park in the south parking lot, as it’s the largest lot in the complex. There’s plenty of accessible parking, with barrier-free access over to the tram. Although not required, the tram stops at all the major areas of the park, including the visitor center. There’s ramped access to the tram, and you can stay in your own wheelchair or transfer to a bench seat.
Alternatively you can walk over to the visitor center, which is located up on Museum Hill. It’s a .4-mile level walk through the South Fields to the elevator which goes up to the visitor center. As an added bonus you can check out some of the sculptures on your stroll through the South Fields.
There’s also accessible parking in the visitor center lot, but the lot is small and it fills up early in the day. From there, a level path leads over to the visitor center, which offers ramp access in back. Inside there’s ample room to maneuver a wheelchair through the galleries which feature rotating exhibits. There is a step down to one gallery, but it’s also accessible from outside.
It’s important to note that peak times at the Storm King Art Center are on weekends in September and October. Try to get there as early as possible during these times, or make plans to visit during the off-peak times. Be forewarned, when the parking lots reach capacity, the gates are closed, so plan ahead to avoid disappointment.
Explore the Grounds
The grounds are filled with varied landscapes, and although there are hills here and there, you can also use the accessible tram to bypass them. Museum Hill is fairly level, and it features a number of abstract cubes, tubes, triangles and a variety of other shapes. Two favorite pieces are also located on Museum Hill — City on the High Mountain, by Louise Nelson and Dwellings by Charles Simonds. Both of these pieces are located near the visitor center, so they’re relatively easy to find.
The North Woods is one of the least accessible areas in the park. Although there are some fairly level paths through the lower part, the upper areas are rocky and steep. Still there’s plenty to see in the lower areas, including Five Open Squares, Six Lines in a T and Two Planes —Vertical and Horizontal II, all by George Rickey, and located close to the tram stop.
New pieces are continually added to the collection, and sometimes there are also installations for special exhibitions. The media is varied too, from Alexander Calder’s sheet metal Five Swords, and Kenneth Cap’s wood and steel Strike, to Andrew Goldsworthy’s Storm King Wall, which is crafted out of fieldstone. Take some time to explore all the areas of the park, and if you get tired, catch the accessible tram and head back to your car. Some slow walkers even use the tram as a tour vehicle, as it offers a good look at many of the sculptures along the route.
Grab a Bite to Eat
Of course all that strolling can work up an appetite, and there are several dining options at Storm King Art Center. At the top of the the list is the Storm King Café, which is located near the north parking lot in the North Woods. There’s accessible parking in the lot, and the tram also stops nearby. There’s level access to the café, which features pre-made sandwiches, salads, cookies, snacks and soft drinks.
Additionally there’s usually a food truck near the south parking lot on the weekends. There’s level access to the truck with picnic tables located nearby in a level area. Menu items include tacos, quesadillas, snacks, ice cream and soft drinks.
The Café Cart on Museum Hill is usually open from Thursday to Sunday during the summer and fall. There’s barrier-free access to the stand, which offers pre-made sandwiches, desserts and soft drinks.
And if you’d prefer to pack along your own lunch, then check out the park map to locate the picnic tables, which are all in level areas. The management welcomes guests with picnic lunches, but cooking is not allowed. Even better — many sculptures are visible from the picnic tables, so you don’t even have to forego the art on your lunch break.