A visitor rolls down a hill at the Storm King Art Center while his partner films him, leaning into each turn as if the immaculate lawn was Egyptian cotton. He gets up and theatrically throws his chest open to 2,100 vista-sweeping acres of Schunnemunk Mountain State Park that cradle the cascading meadow he stands in. All around him over 100, typically massive, sculptures and installations are framed as an interplay with hillocks and glens, rivers, and mountains. The man’s companion shakes her shoulder in laughter, catching a glimpse of his inner five year-old in his giddy grin.
Journey further into the 500-acre art center, cloaked in a highly protected environmental corridor of New York’s Hudson Valley, and it seems everyone is wearing a similar expression: a visible fascination at meeting a museum that breaks the mold, where children laugh and play, and families and friends picnic in the shade. A large-scale art center of international fame, Storm King is dedicated to melding modern art across the natural beauty that graces its carefully curated expanse.
A NATURAL CHOICE
The name Storm King was borrowed from a nearby mountain on the Hudson River, whose cloud-catching crest was considered a harbinger of coming storms by the local community since the 19th century. Ralph “Ted” Ogden and H. Peter Stern purchased the original estate in 1959, creating what was then a humble homage to paintings of the Hudson River School (artists inspired by the region’s landscape), from 1960-61. The estate’s historic home was originally considered the main attraction of the museum, with only a small sculpture garden circling the structure. With the help of landscape artist William A. Rutherford, Sr., the institution’s environmental restoration efforts gradually took over this track of the Hudson Highlands, a meticulous process of tending to and expanding the then damaged terrain to its current breadth.
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