About a 30 minutes drive from Boston and you are in DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. This is a place, where you can stroll, hike, picnic, walk your dog (there are sculpture park dog walks organized) and discover outstanding artists from Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and the world. Established in 1950 DeCordova is still the largest art space of its kind in New England. Mainly focused on NE artists, its permanent exposition includes works by world-famous Alexander Calder, Antony Gormley, Dan Graham, Alexander Liberman and many others.

The land used to be a private estate of Julian de Cordova (1851-1945), the self-educated son of a Jamaican merchant, who married into the locally prominent Dana family and together with his wife Elizabeth traveled the world collecting art. In 1930, Julian gave his property to the town of Lincoln, under the condition that his estate would become a public museum following his death. DeCordova became the only museum to focus on living New England artists, thus uncovering many talents throughout the years. Moreover, every other year leading emerging to mid-career artists of the region take part in the deCordova Biennal that aims to show the range and depth of NE contemporary artists.

The park is spacious, so even on a busy Saturday you can relax, meditate and BREATHE. In order to fully appreciate deCordova, bring some mosquito repellent and using the navigator don’t search for the name of the park, type in the address (51 Sandy Pond Road Lincoln, MA 01773) or you might end up in a wrong place. And remember - there is a reciprocal 50% discount admission with nearby Gropius House. Pay full price at one location and get 50% admission at the other, on the same day. So it surely makes sense to spend your entire day in these two locations. We visited the fascinating art space and asked Jennifer Schmitt – Head of Marketing and Communications of deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum – about the museum, the café, adult art courses and so much more:

What are there challenges and advantages of working on a former family estate?

The benefits are that we get to come to this beautiful location every day and enjoy the art and nature. As with any older building, there are quirks. But the challenges of the spaces also lead to some really interesting art installations, especially our PLATFORM series that asks artists to respond to deCordova’s history, buildings, or landscape.

Photo by Stephanie Cardon
Photo by Stephanie Cardon
Photo by Rick Mansfield of Anchor Imagery
Photo by Rick Mansfield of Anchor Imagery

When do you think is the best time to visit the museum?

Come on a Thursday around 11 am. It will be less crowded than the weekends, but there are still activities to enjoy. You can wander around the Sculpture Park, have lunch at the Café, and then take a guided tour of the exhibitions in the Museum. We always have something fun and different going on at deCordova. We will have Yoga in the Park returning for its 7th year this summer. We have a Family Movie Night once a month on Friday nights, featuring movies inspired by our exhibition “Overgrowth”: Jumanji, The Secret Garden, and Wall-E. There are drop-in programs for all ages; ARTfull Exploration happens on some Sunday afternoons. On June 26, it will include a special Bug’s Eye View of the Park tour. Discussion series, tours, postcard-photography workshops, and so many other great activities. Everything is listed at decordova.org/calendar

Can a newcomer visit deCordova adult art classes just once, or are there groups?

Our adult art offerings include a series of workshops in the winter months with local artists. You can sign up for just one or the whole series. We also have more formal ceramics program that requires registration for the semester.

DeCordova is a fantastic place for events – weddings, birthdays… When a private event is held in the park is it closed or the event takes place after hours?

Events usually take place after hours. If the event is happening exclusively in the Park, we may reserve a certain area for the group, but not close the whole property.

We loved deCordova plants and flowers. Is there a concept behind the garden?

There is no specific concept to the plants in the gardens, but we do have several gorgeous weeping beech trees. Alice’s Garden was created to give smaller sculptures a place outside with better scale, so they don’t get lost on the grassy lawns. I love the irises that bloom in this area each spring.

Can you say a few words about the Art Loan options?

Our Corporate Art Loan program offers local businesses the opportunity to exhibit artwork of both established and emerging contemporary New England artists directly in Corporate Member offices. The art is changed annually, offering members a constant revitalizing of their spaces. Membership also includes admission for all employees of the company and discounts on site.

Picnics are welcome in the park, but what about the café – what is your favorite meal?

Hayley, one of our amazing Café staff members, makes the best latte in town.

We admired the museum shop, what are your favorite items?

We love the jewelry at deCordova | Store, handcrafted and mostly from New England artists. The Store staff always selects items that reflect the themes of the current exhibitions, so there are plenty of gardening and outdoor items this season. They also select a featured Artist of the Month.

DeCordova is a great place to have some quality-time with you. It seems like a natural temple, a strategic place for drawing cosmic energy, recharging your own batteries and getting on your way refreshed. It is a place to be with your kids, but rather calm kids. Hyperactive, investigative and inquiring little ones might be a bit bored, since they cannot interact with the sculptures, but for schoolchildren and teens, it is an ultimate place to learn about contemporary art.
On you way out, don’t skip the gift shop! It has so many designer objects and items that you won’t find in any other museum shop – jewelry, pottery, glass, gifts for children and so much more that Museeum has to get back and buy a few more things, but only after drinking latte, made by Hayley!