It’s time to break out the snow boots, and don’t forget those hats and gloves. The following five spots promise rewarding encounters with art in safe outdoor settings. For those willing to brave the cold, they offer an up-close and in-person alternative to the virtual museum-going experience. As an added bonus, most are friendly to children and dogs alike.
THE CLARK ART INSTITUTE Pack a picnic (or at least a snack) before tackling “Ground/work,” the Clark’s sprawling outdoor art exhibition. Free and open to the public, the museum’s 140-acre campus hosts an array of site-specific work from contemporary artists in nearly every medium. And don’t let snow accumulation in the Berkshires deter you from stopping by — an unmanned station greets patrons with an array of snowshoes to borrow while trekking the grounds. The Clark Art Institute, 225 South St., Williamstown. clarkart.edu
deCORDOVA SCULPTURE PARK This internationally recognized sculpture park offers 30 acres filled with roughly 60 contemporary sculptures. Definitely don’t miss Alan Sonfist’s site-specific works on the endangered species of New England, and remember to relish those wintry views of Flint’s Pond. Dogs are welcome, but should remain leashed and be cleaned up after. Timed tickets must be purchased in advance. deCordova Sculpture Park, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln. thetrustees.org
SEAWALLS BOSTON Hop on the Blue Line and head over to East Boston for a neighborhood soaked with ocean imagery. Currently spanning the streets of Eastie are seven brand-new murals completed by local artists in 2020, each tackling environmental awareness and threats to sea life. A 1-mile route along the East Boston Greenway is perfect for getting a little exercise and culture all at once. Tip: Start at Marginal Street, just outside the Institute of Contemporary Art’s Watershed location. seawalls.org
NAVY YARD GARDEN ASSOCIATION Bundle up for a breezy visit to the sculpture-filled Charlestown Navy Yard. The “WOW: Wind on Water” project brings metal installations of varying height — from 6 to 18 feet tall — by Utah sculptor Lyman Whitaker. These kinetic pieces react to winds coming off the Atlantic, making them sway and spin in delightful ways. Go ahead, bring the dog — but furry companions must remain leashed. On view until May. Navy Yard Garden, 114 16th St., Charlestown. navyyardgarden.org
MASS MoCA For those passing through downtown North Adams, the 40-foot work by Martin Puryear is hard to miss. Sitting at the southern perimeter of Mass MoCA’s campus, “Big Bling” is an animal-like abstraction constructed entirely from wood and chain-link fence. The piece originally landed at New York City’s Madison Square Park in 2017. Now it’s on view at Mass MoCA for at least the next five years. Service dogs are allowed on the museum campus. All other pooches can view the piece from downtown streets. Mass MoCA, 1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams. massmoca.org
Grace Griffin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @GraceMGriffin.