Some of the most interesting places that you can visit are open-air museums. These are different from regular museums that we know of because their collections are displayed outside. They exhibit cultural, artistic, and heritage pieces and are mostly experiential and educational in nature. These museums also display the social and spiritual histories of the place and its people. They have become popular tourist attractions, especially those that display live art or cultural and folk villages.
This is our list of the top open-air museums around the world ranked according to their popularity, uniqueness, and contribution to the propagation of their country’s culture and arts.
10 Louisiana Museum & The Sculpture Park
The Sculpture Park located at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark is a perfect example of how art can complement nature. There are around 60 sculptures in the park, blending flawlessly into the landscape. It allows you to appreciate the beauty of the park by the sound as you explore and get lost in its garden rooms that sometimes hide some of the sculptures. The unique location of the park adds to its charm as it showcases the strength of the art pieces that are tested by nature. Three mini-tours give you a panoramic view of the settings of the park. You can also download a mobile guide so that you can listen to the stories behind the park’s sculptures.
The world’s oldest open-air museum is found in Sweden. At Skansen, the history and customs of Sweden is showcased. There are guided tours that will take you through the traditions of the Swedes, exhibiting how they adapt to the changing seasons, how they celebrate, and even how they take care of animals. Yes, there are Nordic wildlife, pets, and even exotic creatures in Skansen. You can take a tour around the manors and farmsteads that are displayed and see how Swedes used to live and enjoy their free time. Skansen also have scheduled festivities that feature dancing and singing. There are Christmas markets during wintertime and visitors will be able to enjoy food, souvenirs, and music in the style of the Swedes.
8 Tarot Garden
Hidden in the Tuscan hills in Italy is the Tarot Garden. Born from the genius of French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, this is a display of 22 large-scale sculptures based on the tarot deck. The large monster and goddess looking sculptures give off a psychedelic vibe. The use of loud colors, unusual shapes and exaggerated proportions make a unique exhibit. Spread across fourteen acres, steel and iron covered in plastic are the base of the sculptures, finished with mosaic and flamboyant colors. The garden was built over a period of two decades, proving that ambitious projects with wild displays can come true and serve as a source of joy for the people who visit it.
7 Korean Folk Village
In Gyeonggi-do, not far from Seoul, South Korea is an outdoor museum that takes you to the time of the Joseon era. The Korean Folk Village covers 243 acres and allows you to experience the lifestyle and culture of an era long gone. The recreation of a typical Joseon village takes visitors to structures that depict the houses during that time. There are places that serve meals that are delicious and healthy, prepared in the traditional methods of cooking. Do not miss the demonstrations of marriage rituals, martial arts and music concerts that are regularly done at the Folk Village. The live performances also feature planting and harvesting rituals that are accompanied by music and dance.
6 Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Set within the 500-acre Bretton Hall estate is Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the pride of West Yorkshire. This is the first sculpture park established in the United Kingdom and is the biggest in Europe in this category. The collection in the open-air museum features work that are on loan from artists, commissioned pieces, and gifts from individuals from around the world. You can see up to 80 sculptures and art installations on the sprawling grounds. There are also ticketed events and exhibitions that are held in the different areas of the Sculpture Park. You can also participate in scheduled events that are family-friendly, activities that even children can join in.
5 Museum Meiji-mura
Another cultural village makes it to our list of the best open-air museums in the world. Museum Meiji-mura is located in Inuyama, Japan. A display of over sixty structures showcasing the mixture of traditional and Western architecture can be seen here. The expansive museum grounds and the exhibits will show you the cultural heritage of the Meiji period. There are structures around the country that have been transported to the village to preserve their architecture. There are representative buildings like a church, hotel entrance, prison, schools, hospitals and sake brewery. A bus runs through the village as well as a tram and train that will aid in going around the Meiji-mura.
4 Gibbs Farm
Found in the Kaipara Harbour in New Zealand is Gibbs Farm, an unusual location for a sculpture park. This open-air museum is famous because of the vast collection of sculptures that are mostly commissioned. The artists whose works are in display had to contend with the unusual landscape and weather – the harbor is on shallow land that is covered by water during high tide, weather is unpredictable, and the property leans toward the sea. The artists rose up to the challenge given by nature and have worked around the landscape and the surrounding waters to install modern and contemporary pieces that dot the property. With around twenty artists working on pieces over a span of almost twenty years, Gibbs is now in the top New Zealand tourist destinations.
3 Instituto Inhotim
This pride of Brazil takes center stage in being a special area where many disciplines come together. Instituto Inhotim is a place that showcases contemporary art, a botanical collection, and hosts various educational and social activities. The open-air museum is home to sculptures and works of art that are displayed on the sprawling property that features gardens, lakes, and trails. Inhotim has periodical projects that feature thematic pieces, continuously offering new exhibits and activities for its visitors and the community. Their collection of world-class pieces from contemporary art is continuously on display, highlighting the spatial relationship that can exist between art and nature.
Related: 10 Strangest Museums In The World
2 The Hakone Open-Air Museum
There are few places that can feature art, nature and architecture better than the Hakone Open-Air Museum. The various pieces that dot the gardens perfectly complements the blue skies and the landscape of the area. This is the home of the Symphonic Sculpture, a tower-like structure that you can enter and climb on its staircase where you can see stained glass, up to the viewing platform that allows you to bask in the glory of the surrounding mountains and of the whole park. There are massive pavilion-like structures that were made by artists that want to feature contemporary and modern pieces while still giving ode to nature. The sculptures are made from different materials like glass, steel, iron and bronze, showcasing the talent of the featured artists.
1 Storm King Art Center
Amidst the sprawling 500 acres of land in New Windsor, New York is the world’s best open-air museum. Storm King Art Center is home to over 100 art pieces, carefully integrating art with nature. What started as a museum for local artists turned into a massive open-air museum that features commissioned works, donations, and site-specific pieces from famous local and international artists. It is now home to one of the biggest outdoor sculptures in the United States. There are installations that are not just built on the ground but are actually part of its structure. The property is roughly divided into four exhibit areas that showcase not just art pieces but the natural beauty around Storm King like the nearby hills, creek, and lush meadows, offering picturesque backdrops to the massive installations.