The best outdoor museums
Make the most of springtime by enjoying outdoor art. Explore Lisbon’s urban art, relive the Netherlands’ past in the Netherlands Open Air Museum, feast your eyes on the Sculpture Park Museum in Santiago, Chile, and organise a unique walk through Oma Forest in Bilbao.
1 Art in Lisbon’s streets
Not all the art in Lisbon takes refuges between four walls. The Urban Art Gallery (GAU) arose to put an end to vandalism in Bairro Alto. Nowadays, it’s dedicated to locating suitable walls, contacting their owners and convincing them that their properties will increase in value if they allow the project to use one of the walls as a canvas for urban artists. However, these revolutionaries of painting also make use of containers, garbage trucks, and even buses to express their artistic creativity.
Along with the ever-popular spray paint, Lisbon’s artists use other techniques. Alexandre Farto (Vhils) modifies the texture of old walls using mechanical drills to add relief to his portraits and Artur Bordalo (Bordalo II) repurposes waste for his 3D creations.
Before visiting Lisbon, be sure to check this map, where you can find the locations of each of these works, which are constantly changing.
2 Time travel at the Netherlands Open Air Museum in Arnhem
Travelling 100 years into the past to experience the daily lives of the inhabitants of a historical Dutch village can be done just one hour from Amsterdam. Since 1912, at the request of A Baron van Heemstra (mayor of Arnhem at the time), houses, farms and windmills from all over the country have been brought to this town. During the tour, the kids will be delighted to help out the craftspeople and learn how to make bread or paper. The farmers, the blacksmith, the fisherman and the miller will appreciate the little ones’ help, while older visitors explore the Netherlands’ history with the plethora of exhibitions. Inside, visitors can see clothing, jewellery, photos and even toys from the period.
It’s suggested that visitors set aside more than three hours so they can fully enjoy this outdoor museum, one of Europe’s biggest and best.
3 Art’s best side – Sculpture Park in Santiago, Chile
After the River Mapocho flooded in 1982, local artists and residents came together to create an outdoor cultural space on the northern bank. The sculptor Marta Colvin opened the park – which is home to native and imported flowers and trees – with her Pachamama (“Mother Earth” in Quechua). It currently has more than 30 works by renowned local artists and an exhibition hall where up-and-coming talents exhibit temporary works.
Every January, the place hosts one of the country’s biggest festivals, the Providencia International Jazz Festival.
It is open every day from 10am to 7.30pm. Entry is free of charge and enjoying a picnic while contemplating your favourite sculpture is the perfect way to enjoy the park.
4 Oma – The Enchanted Forest of Bilbao
This open air museum, where art and nature combine magically, is the work of the painter and sculptor Agustín Ibarrola. In 1982, he decided to mix Palaeolithic rock art with contemporary Land Art, which dates from the 1960s. The result is 47 unique works in which the canvas is nothing more than nature itself.
Along the route, yellow arrows indicate the exact position one should stand at to see the works from the right perspective; this is where everything becomes comprehensible and, almost, alive.