With the return of fine days, the sun draws you outside. It is a perfect occasion to bring art and pleasure together. As culture is not necessarily linked with indoor activities, here is a selection of beautiful open-air museums. Whether filled with history (like the East Side Gallery or Skansen) or steeped in modernity, these visits will not leave you indifferent.
The 13th arrondissement of Paris, in the open
Little by little, the 13th arrondissement of Paris has seen huge frescoes dress up the walls of its buildings. The project stems from a collaboration between the mayor of the arrondissement and the owner of the Itinerrance Gallery Mehdi Ben Cheikh, as they both love street art.
In all, some thirty works of art cover the walls of the neighbourhood, for large part along boulevard Vincent Auriol. Use metro line 6 to follow this open-air museum, then keep on by foot to wander around and delight in the maze of streets. You'll discover several frescoes by American artist Frank Shepard Fairey, whose Hope portrait of Obama travelled the world. If you wish to pinpoint the points of interest, a map is available on the Itinerrance Gallery website.
24 bis, boulevard du Général Jean Simon
+33 (0)1 44 06 45 39
Street art pays Santiago a visit
Chile saw the hatching of many talented graffiti artists, giving the country a strong reputation for street art. In the San Miguel neighbourhood of Santiago, do not miss the open-air museum, now just as famous as the one in Valparaíso, 80 miles from the capital. At the beginning, it was a social project aiming at restoring a sad, grey working class neighbourhood built in the 1960s. Today, 40 wall paintings created by more than 70 renowned international artists are publicly on display.
If you wish to delve deeper into the significance of the works, guided tours are available, some of them even on bikes. You'll get better understanding about the historical and social contexts of this “political mural trend”, born half a century ago in support of Salvador Allende. It is still very much alive in Chile today.
Museo a Cielo Abierto en San Miguel
324, Epicuro 308
Back to the past in Skansen
The oldest open-air museum is here in Stockholm, on Djurgården island, and you can access it by boat. Open in 1891, Skansen tells of Swedish habits and customs of yesteryears. You can visit authentic houses that have been dismantled and then reassembled on the island. They are arranged with furniture collected by founder Artur Hazelius during various trips through Swedish provinces.
During the visit, you'll likely meet the busy workers still honing their craft – probably an occasion to bring some souvenirs back with you. This travel back in time will please the whole family. As a little extra, but a good one at that, you can meet Scandinavian animals in the park's zoo. Reindeers, buffalos and wolves will fill your eyes with childlike wonder.
115 21 Stockholm
+46 (0)8 442 80 00
Storm King Art Center, a contemporary art storm
Founded in 1960, the Storm King Art Center is an open-air museum a mere hour away from New York City. The vast prairie of the domain is riddled with a hundred contemporary sculptures.
First destined to display paintings of the Hudson River School, the museum eventually turned towards modern sculpture. Here, nothing is left to chance and every piece of art has been arranged so as to complement the immediate surroundings and the landscape alike, acting as backdrop of the art. You are invited to roam freely between the works and admire Ronald Bladen's blocks of steel, Tomio Miki's ear and Forrest Myers scooped-out cube. A piece by Roy Lichtenstein is also exhibited.
Storm King Art Center
1 Museum Road
New Windsor, NY 12553
+1 845 534 3115
Experience history at the East Side Gallery
This may not be the most joyous part of history, but assuredly one of importance: the East Side Gallery is a 0.8 mile long section of the Berlin wall, actually the longest section still standing. As soon as the wall was brought down in 1989, artists took over and painted huge frescoes, some of them linked with history, some not. The first artist to lay some ground work was Christine MacLean, soon followed by 117 creators from all over the world.
The most famous of all is undoubtedly the Fraternal Kiss by Dmitri Vrubel, depicting Brezhnev and Honecker in an embrace. Do not give up when looking at the massive crowds gather here, just take the time to gaze at each and every work. The East Side Gallery is the symbol of freedom for an entire country.
East Side Gallery
Contemporary Art takes residence near Montreal
Only 8 miles from Montreal, take a walk or ride a bike in a stretch of green. Stop at leisure to gaze at the artworks of your wish. Displaying 50 pieces, the Lachine open-air museum is the largest contemporary sculpture garden in Canada.
The museum consists in 3 different sections: the Lachine museum itself, the René Lévesque park – a stretch of land into the Saint-Laurent River, where you'll find most works – and the surrounding parks alongside the river. Take a break in front of Lisette Lemieux's Regard sur le fleuve, Robert Roussil's Hommage à René Lévesque and Michel Goulet's Détour: le grand jardin.
1, chemin du Musée
Lachine, QC H8S 4L9
+1 514 634 3478