Davids Nash's Ash Dome, planted in 1977 in Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Courtesy Yorkshire Sculpture Park/ Photo: Jonty Wilde

WASHINGTON, D.C. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
As an offshoot of the Smithsonian Institution, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is expected to be a first-rate operation. It does not disappoint. Situated on the plaza that surrounds the museum and in a sunken garden across the street, the alfresco Hirshhorn boasts some terrific pieces. They include the geometrically themed Needle Tower (above) by Kenneth Snelson, a life-size stainless steel work by Jeff Koons, and smile-provoking pieces such as the self-explanatory Man Passing Through the Door. In a section of the garden dominated by an abstract Joan Miró sculpture, there is a sound installation that consists of a looping Scottish folk song, which brings another dimension to the garden’s visual aesthetics. A couple of blocks away, on the corner of 7th and H streets, NW, are three large high-resolution LED screens on which a 30-second animation piece plays several times per hour. The video employs cutting-edge digital techniques, which help make for a perfect melding of works of art from the past, present, and future. National mall at the corner of 7th street and Independence Avenue, SW, (202) 633-1000, hirshhorn.si.edu

PARIS Tuileries Garden and Musée Rodin
Neoclassical and modern sculptures play off of one another inside Paris’ oldest park, Tuileries Garden (located near the Musée du Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe), where you’ll see statues of mythological goddesses and military heroes. Be sure to check out Henry Moore’s reclining figure and a bronze Raymond Mason piece called La Foule (it translates to mean The Crowd — and you’ll know why when you see it). And don’t forget to bring some bread, cheese, and wine, since the garden is a perfect spot for a picnic. The outdoor section of Musée Rodin is situated alongside the indoor museum, but it features some of Rodin’s most iconic work. This is where you’ll go to see The Thinker and his rococo The Gates of Hell. The latter, inspired by Dante’s The Inferno, was originally created for the entrance of a Parisian design museum that never got built. Musée Rodin is all the richer for that miscalculation. Tuileries Garden: between the Musée du Louvre and Palace de la Concorde, aviewoncities.com/paris/tuileries.htm; Musée Rodin: 79 rue de Varenne, 011-1-4418-6110, musee-rodin.fr

Needle Tower by Kenneth Snelson in Hirshborn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Kenneth Nelson, Needle Tower, 1968, From the Hirshhorn's Collection. Photo By Lee Stalsworth
ENGLAND Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Located an hour outside of Manchester, Yorkshire Sculpture Park is an art lover’s dream come true. Originally designed as a “private pleasure ground” for British blue bloods, it takes up 500 beautifully landscaped acres. This summer, the park will feature a career retrospective from David Nash, a sculptor who often works with large hunks of wood. The way other artists use paintbrushes, Nash uses chain saws and blowtorches — to great effect. And if you happen to visit London, be sure to check out the light exhibition on the Parade Ground near the Tate museum, Richard Serra’s sculpture of Cor-Ten steel near Liverpool Street station, and Banksy’s politically charged street art (a guide to where his pieces are cropping up can be found at artofthestate.co.uk/bansky/banksy.htm; click on the Locations Map). West Bretton, Wakefield, England, 011-44-1924-832-631, ysp.co.uk

NEW YORK Double Take
Just over the Brooklyn Bridge, in New York City’s newly cool borough, six artists bring their work to the exterior of MetroTech Center, a diverse office park where companies ranging from J.P. Morgan to the Ms. Foundation for Women have offices. Six artists were charged with creating works that play off of elements that can be found surrounding MetroTech. Sculptor Christian de Vietri created a nearly six-foot-tall piece that resembles branches of wood ready to be lit for a bonfire. More whimsically, the team of Matt Irie and Dominick Talvacchio transformed a streetlamp to appear as though it has made a crater in the ground, its post bent impossibly as if a phenomenal event has taken place. Most intriguing, though, is Natasha Johns-Messenger’s ThisSideIn, a structure that appears to extend the architecture of the lobby and reflect the outside, in essence bringing the outside inside. MetroTech Center, between Flatbush Avenue and Jay Street, publicartfund.org/doubletake