Oh, what to see, where to go in the days of Covid? Stay out-of-doors, but fires block favorite hiking areas in the mountains and along the coast. With family visiting, and wildfires raging, we chose Stanford’s two sculpture gardens for a recent weekday afternoon outing.
Four-hour paid parking is available adjacent to the Rodin Sculpture Garden, but with distance learning and buildings closed, the ticket issue kiosk was covered and there was no charge for parking. Students are distance-learning, so campus seemed deserted. More parking spaces!
The Gates of Hell. I remember reading about this large sculpture forty-some years ago in David Weiss’s book about Rodin, Naked Came I
Rodin Sculpture Garden outside at the Cantor Arts Center. Nice place to picnic. Although The Thinker is no longer is in the outdoor garden (read why), there are twenty sculptures to enjoy.
When we visited, we saw others enjoying the peace and quiet with social distancing.
Plenty of picnic tables and shaded benches.
It’s an easy walk to the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden. Although the air wasn’t too smokey, it was 100+ degrees and we opted to drive. We parked in a nearby permit lot, empty on a weekday, with students not on campus. Parking rules did not seem to be enforced. A feeling of peace settles over one when you’re in the shady and quiet Papua New Guinea garden. These days, we all need a feeling of peace and quiet. Wooden carvings become one with the natural trees.
Wikipedia provides the interesting background story of the New Guinea Sculpture Garden, carved in wood and stone on site by master carvers brought from their home islands by graduate student Jim Mason in 1994. The carvers provided their own versions of Gates of Hell and The Thinker.
The New Guinea garden is open free of charge all the time. Cantor Arts Center gives free tours once a month, no reservation needed. If you’ve visited these Stanford gardens before, the current stresses of Covid, politics, wildfires, and social unrest make it a good time to re-visit the peace and beauty.
Date of travel: August 2020.
Stanford University Cantor Arts Center.
NOTE: Alas, the same day this was posted, Stanford announced that much of the campus will be closed to the public, from September 1 through the end of the year, in order to minimize Covid hazards to students and faculty on campus.