A friend recently told me about Opus 40, and while exploring the Catskills area, we decided to stop and visit this interesting sculpture park. Opus 40 is located in Saugerties, NY (also near Woodstock).
We used Google Maps to get to Opus 40. However, another sign out on the road directed us to Opus 40, so we took a different road in. I felt a little like we were off-roading in the minivan, but the road took us to a very full parking lot.
We had no idea there was a music event going on at Opus 40 (which meant it was technically closed to the public), but we were able to park, pay, and explore the property. If I were to go again, we would use the main entrance. Also, check their website to makes sure there isn’t an event going on.
Opus 40 is like nothing I’ve seen before. It is sort of like an interactive sculpture and winding labyrinth.
In 1938, Harvey Fite, one of the founders of the Bard College Fine Arts Department, purchased an abandoned quarry in the town of Saugerties, NY, in Ulster County, about 100 miles north of New York City. During a period of 37 years, he created the monumental world-acclaimed 6½-acre bluestone sculpture now known as Opus 40. Over time he acquired additional land (70+ acres today) and built several structures, including a beautiful large wood and stone home, a studio, garage, blacksmith shop and the Quarryman’s Museum, which houses his unique collection of indigenous tools. Constructed by this one man, using dry-key stone masonry techniques inspired by his work in restoring the Mayan civilization at Copan, refined by experiment, trial and error, Opus 40 is a labyrinthine world of finely fitted stone, swirling with ramps and terraces constructed around pools and trees and fountains, rising out of bedrock a half mile deep. (https://www.opus40.org/)
It is amazing to see all the work put into creating Opus 40, and all by one person. The curved walls and smooth lines are very impressive. There are places where water collects and there is duckweed on top, making it even more visually interesting. I love how it looks like a green carpet and almost like you could step on it.
The kids had fun exploring the grounds, checking out cairns, passageways, and more (and were excited to see a water snake and a bunch of frogs!).
While the main area isn’t very large, it was interesting to explore and spend some time walking around.
The museum wasn’t open when we went (because of the event being held there), but there were still some interesting things to see outside. When we got home I read through the website to learn more about the history of Opus 40.
This was definitely an interesting place to visit. I would recommend planning a little picnic lunch while you are there so that you can take your time and enjoy the sights. This would be gorgeous in the fall when leaves are changing colors!
We visited Woodstock afterwards, but be prepared because the town can be very crowded, especially in the summertime.
Visit Opus 40 at https://www.opus40.org/
Check out the other places we have visited in the area:
Big Deep & Little Deep Swimming Holes, Woodstock, NY
Falling Waters Preserve, Saugerties, NY
Overlook Mountain, Catskills, NY
Saugerties Lighthouse, NY