7 of the best outdoor exhibitions in New York this summer


From Andy Warhol to Jackson Pollock to Mark Rothko, New York has always attracted the biggest and brightest stars from the world of art. Today the city and it surrounding areas continue to be home to a huge number of galleries and exhibition spaces that serve as a platform for works by local and international artists. During the summer months, the Big Apple’s art scene spills outdoors, with several cultural venues and public spaces being given over to open-air exhibitions. Here are 7 of the best you can visit this summer.

(Photo: Socrates Sculpture Park)

Jeffrey Gibson, Paul Ramírez Jonas & Xaviera Simmons – Monuments Now

Throughout this summer, Socrates Sculpture Park plays host to ‘Monuments Now’, a three-part exhibition that explores the role of monuments in society and commemorates underrepresented narratives such as diasporic, Indigenous, and queer histories. Featuring new commissions by acclaimed artists Jeffrey Gibson, Paul Ramírez Jonas & Xaviera Simmons, the exhibition opens with Jeffrey Gibson’s ‘Because Once You Enter My House It Becomes Our House’ – a massive technicolour pyramid honouring queer and Indigenous peoples. Part II and III of the exhibition will open together in the park in early October.

32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City

Ailene Fields – Frog Prince and Wood Fairy

The Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza have collaborated with NYC Parks & Recreation Art in the Parks program to exhibit the works of more than 35 renowned sculpture artists in Hammarskjold Plaza. Among the exhibitions running through this summer is ‘Frog Prince and Wood’, created by American sculptor Ailene Fields who has used cast bronze to explore themes evocative of dreams and magic. Like so many of her sculptures, this one features animals, mythological figures and architectural elements to call forth the qualities that make us human.

East 47th Street

(Photo: Dag Hammarskjold Plaza)

Yayoi Kusama – KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature

The New York Botanical Garden will provide a bucolic stage for a presentation of works by internationally celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Exploring Kusama’s lifelong fascination with the natural world and examining how she integrates concepts of the cosmos, infinity, and eternity into her creative endeavours, the ‘Cosmic Nature’ exhibition will encompass multiple installations across the Botanical Garden’s 250 acres and in and around the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, showcasing work from throughout her prolific career. UPDATE: Originally set to run from 9 May–1 November, due to Covid-19 this exhibition has now been rescheduled for spring through fall 2021.

2900 Southern Boulevard, The Bronx

(Photo: New York Botanical Garden)

Historic Richmond Town

Historic Richmond Town is a veritable living art exhibition, showcasing as it does nearly two centuries of life in this charming and uniquely authentic town and farm museum. Lovingly and meticulously preserved by the Staten Island Historical Society, the area features a 19th century farmhouse and numerous buildings in which blacksmiths, carpenters, tinsmiths and printers plied their trade. UPDATE: Due to Covid-19 most buildings in the historic town remain closed, but an online exhibition will be available to view throughout summer 2020 that looks at moments in American voting history as experienced by Staten Islanders.

Richmondtown, Staten Island

Melvin Edwards – Brighter Days

Taking place in the vast green expanse of City Hall Park, ‘Brighter Days’ is a major career survey of African-American sculptural artist Melvin Edwards. The exhibition features five large scale sculptures – all created between 1970 and 1996 – that explore hot potato issues around explore race, labour, violence and the African Diaspora, as well as one additional piece that was commissioned specifically for the City Hall showcase.

Broadway & Chambers Street

Bianca Beck – Untitled

The first large scale outdoor work by Bianca Beck, ‘Untitled’ is the latest in the Ohio-born artist’s impressive collection of works that explores the human body — both inside and out. From the imagined internal spaces of veins and organs to the dynamics of identity and expression, the exhibition at Art Omi’s 120-acre sculpture and architecture park and gallery considers the expansion of the individual in relation to collectivity, creativity and partnership through a single colossal sculptural figure.

1405 County Route 22, Ghent

(Photo: Art Omi)

Davina Semo – Reverberation

Brooklyn Bridge’s Park Pier 1 will set the stage for an eye-catching exhibition called ‘Reverberation’ this summer featuring five, four-foot tall bronze bells mounted within towering support structures. The brainchild of distinguished American sculptural artist Davina Semo, each bell will be suspended by a chain that will allow you to ring them to emanate differently pitched sounds.

2 Furman Street, Brooklyn

By Paul Joseph