Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

50 States of Public Art: The Josephine Sculpture Garden in Frankfort, Kentucky

I realized this week that it’s been a while since I wrote a public art post for Caterpickles, and that I really missed doing those.  While watching the election returns out of Kentucky this past week, I found myself wondering what the public art looked like over there. That’s how I learned that Frankfort, KY boasts one of this nation’s most interesting and kid-friendly open-air public art collections.

Josephine Sculpture Garden in Frankfort, Kentucky

The sculpture resembles a series of three open work canoes suspended at various heights on a network of angled poles. The blues, greys, and orangey-pinks of the evening sky show through the sculpture.
Emma McClellan’s fabricated sculpture, Suspended in Water or Air (2008) is shown against a twilight sky in this striking photograph by Andrew Marsh. (Photo via Nashville Arts Magazine.)

Title: Suspended in Water or Air, 2008

Artist: Emma McClellan

Location: Josephine Sculpture Garden, Frankfort, Kentucky

Photo Source: Photograph by Andrew Marsh, via Nashville Arts

The Josephine Sculpture Garden is a nonprofit sculpture park located on 26 acres of former farmland just outside of Frankfort, Kentucky. Free and open 365 days a year from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., this outdoor public art museum welcomes children and dogs alike to explore the 35 sculptures and murals housed across the property. Dotted around the landscape, you’ll also find a dozen interactive artworks for you and your family to explore.

Rather than maintain a standard permanent collection, the park’s founder, Melanie VanHouten, prefers to create a rotating collection made up of works loaned to her on a temporary basis from various artists. This approach gives her the flexibility to showcase a larger variety of work from local artists at all stages of their careers. According to the Josephine Sculpture Garden website, although the garden typically only has about three dozen staged artworks on site at any given time, more than 70 different artists have already exhibited samples of their work at the garden.

For those of you who want to pair your art viewing with a structured activity of some sort, Josephine Sculpture Garden hosts a variety of events during the year, including the STEAM Festival and International Sculpture day in April, the SoundScape music festival in June, and the Fall Arts Festival in September. The Garden also hosts guided nature tours, night sky tours, scavenger hunts, and a variety of workshops and classes year-round.

Want to see the Josephine Sculpture Garden yourself?

The Josephine Sculpture Garden is located at 3355 Lawrenceburg Road, Frankfort, KY 40601 (just off I-64 and Hwy 127 South).

Before you go, be sure to visit the garden’s website to browse their calendar of events and check out their current crop of scavenger hunts, interactive art projects, and other activities for kids.

Oh, and don’t forget the bug spray. You’ll need to wear good walking shoes too. One of the core missions of the Josephine Sculpture Garden is to preserve the natural Kentucky landscape. You will find lots of public art here, but the paths you’ll travel to view it will be mown, not paved.

Did you know that I’ve got a book out about how parents can use public art to engage their children with the world around them?

What’s That, Mom? provides 15 accessible, practical strategies for using public art to spark conversations with children between the ages of 3 and 10 — no artistic talent or insight required. What’s That, Mom? is available at and Amazon. There’s even a journal to go with it so that your kids can sketch their favorite works of art and you can record your favorite moments from your outing.

NOTE: The above paragraph contains affiliate links to, an online bookstore that provides financial support to local, independent bookstores. At the time I wrote this post, had already raised $12.8m for local bookstores. If you use the link in the previous paragraph to purchase my book on, I’ll earn a commission on your book purchase, as will your preferred independent bookshop. You can also find my book in the new Caterpickles Bookstore. Regardless of whether you use my links or visit the Caterpickles Bookstore, thank you for spending part of your day reading Caterpickles. Learn more about Affiliate Links, the Caterpickles Bookstore, and why I decided to become a Affiliate.

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