We all need to get outside, but what if you could get out and see some art at the same time. You can do just that at the Joseph Beuys Sculpture Park at UMBC. Best of all, it’s in Baltimore, and an easy drive from downtown Washington, D.C.
We asked Sandra Abbott, Curator of Collections & Outreach, Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, UMBC and Firesoul, at Joseph Beuys Sculpture Park at the at the University of Maryland (UMBC) to share what makes this sculpture park so special, why you should visit, and what you need to know before you go.
Where is the museum located?
Location: Joseph Beuys Sculpture Park, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250
The park is located on the south side of the campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, just 40 minutes north of Washington, DC.
What topics does the Joseph Beuys Sculpture Park cover?
The park addresses the history of the influential German artist, Joseph Beuys, social sculpture and the urban green movement.
What is your park’s claim to fame?
The park was inspired by the famous multi-disciplinary artist, Joseph Beuys. It has generated a rich archive of “public diaries,” a collection of anonymous musings and drawings that passersby have contributed for over two decades.
What is your favorite exhibit or artifact in the park?
The park includes 30 mature oak trees planted together in a grove and placed alongside 30 granite boulders. The installation is inspired by “7,000 Oaks,” a social sculpture and greening project by Joseph Beuys.
What kinds of special exhibits and events do you host throughout the year?
UMBC has hosted a variety of dance and music performances, yoga, mindfulness and mediation workshops, art classes, and site-specific, visual art installations at the site over the years since the inception of the park over twenty years ago in 2000-2001.
Additionally located at the site are three large wooded benches with “public diaries” tucked underneath. Any passerby may write in the blank journal pages or read what other park visitors have previously written in them.
Are there guided tours available?
The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, UMBC offers guided art experiences for groups at the site. Scouts, senior citizen groups, group leaders, administrators, school groups and teachers are especially encouraged to contact the site’s Firesoul, Sandra Abbott, at 410-455-1440 or abbo[email protected] to schedule a free, on-site tour and art activity.
Art activities typically include nature discovery activities, such as scavenger hunts and drawing exercising using nature as a guide. Advance visit notice is appreciated.
How much time should someone plan to spend at the park?
Like any park, you may wish to bring a hammock or blanket along with a picnic lunch to spend a leisurely afternoon. Or you may want take a brief 20-minute stroll through, if you are on your way elsewhere for a meeting on campus.
Scheduled tours typically last 45 minutes to one hour for larger groups.
What should someone bring with them and what items are not allowed?
Please bring a small trash bag to take away any wrappers or bottles left over from your picnic lunch or other activities.
You may want to bring your own pen to leave a message in one of the “secret journals” found underneath the benches. Some like to bring their own journal or sketch book for personal journaling and drawing, while others are happy to simply snap some selfies with their cell phone.
If you like sporty activities, it is an ideal site for playing catch or frisbee.
Is photography allowed inside (without flash)?
Yes! It’s an outdoor public park!
What should parents of young children know before visiting the park?
This park is free and open to the public, however, metered campus visitor parking is a short walk away. Sometimes the park is muddy after rain, and it can be difficult to navigate with strollers, wheelchairs, or toddler wagons. (However, we do hope to resolve this with a special pathway we are planning for the near future.)
Parents may want to supervise small children carefully, as there is a campus road nearby.
What’s the coolest item for sale in the gift shop?
You may want to pick-up a UMBC souvenir t-shirt before you leave. You can find a wide variety in the UMBC bookstore, located inside the nearby University Commons building just a short walk from the park.
Is there a cafe or restaurant?
After you get your t-shirt, follow the scent of pizza and falafel coming from the Commons food court just around the corner from the bookstore. There are many vegan, vegetarian, ethnic, healthy and fast food choices.
What should teachers planning a field trip know before reaching out to you?
It helps if teachers know the approximate size and ages of their group and which week they will be visiting before scheduling their free tour and activity at the park.
What else should a visitor know before visiting?
Any visitor to an outdoor park should check the weather forecast before heading out for the day. You will need to know whether to wear your rain coat (yes, the park can be lovely in the rain too!) or bring your sunscreen to cover exposed skin on a hot day. Bringing your sustainable water bottle may be a good idea, as there are no water foundations in the park.
Go to about.umbc.edu/visitors-guide for parking maps and directions before you arrive.
What are your normal days and hours of operation?
The park is open whenever the UMBC campus is open. We are a public University operating as part of the University System of Maryland. As a State institution, we are always free and open to the public.
Does the museum have a bag check or coat room?
This park features three wooden benches for comfortable seating. You are welcome to take your coat off and rest it there, but please do not forget to take it with you when you leave!
Never leave personal belongings unattended in the park. UMBC does not maintain a lost and found for articles of clothing left behind.
Is there parking available?
Metered parking is available in both the nearby Commons Garage and the Administration Garage. See about.umbc.edu/visitors-guide.
Is there an admission fee?
There is no admission fee. The park is always free and open to the public whenever the campus is open.