LongHouse Reserve: An Inspirational Art Museum for Kids, Families in the Hamptons
While East Hampton is known for its ideal summer weather, beautiful beaches, and outdoor activities, it's also home to LongHouse Reserve, one of my favorite outdoor sculpture parks.
LongHouse is an outdoor art museum surrounded by beautiful gardens and lush plants and trees. My kids and I love spending a few hours admiring the art while being surrounded by such natural beauty. It's definitely worth a visit if you're in the East End or merely interested in outdoor roadside art.
Read on to learn more about LongHouse and what you need to know before you go.
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Spanning nearly 16 acres in the Northwest Woods section of East Hampton, LongHouse Reserve is the creation of Jack Lenor Larsen, a renowned textile designer, author, and collector. Larsen acquired the property in 1975 and set out to design outdoor spaces for plant collections and large-scale sculptures.
He built his home, LongHouse, inspired by the seventh-century Shinto shrine at Ise, Japan. Larsen believed experiencing art in living spaces was a more unique and meaningful learning experience than any media. He created an outdoor art museum based on the principle that a harmonious blending of art and nature is central to a creative life.
Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome is a permanent attraction. Photo by Diana Kim
There are about 60 works of art in the gardens at any given time, some in the permanent collection and others on loan from visiting artists. Larsen wanted to showcase a range of artists, from the lesser known to those who embody the best of modern art. You'll find glass installations by Dale Chihuly, ceramics by Toshiko Takaezu, bronzes by William de Kooning, as well as works by Yoko Ono, Sol LeWitt, Will Ryman, Claus Bury, and and Buckminster Fuller.
My family and I visit LongHouse every time we are in East Hampton. While not as big as some sculpture parks outside New York City, LongHouse feels more intimate and magical. There are several works in the permanent collection we love seeing over and over again, including Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome and Ono's Play It By Trust all-white chess pieces set. On each visit, we also encounter several new pieces that captivate us.
Discover the innovative Claus Bury Bridge Project. Photo by Diana Kim
On our last two visits, my kids and I loved Ai Weiwei's Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads installed around the perimeter of the amphitheater. My kids enjoyed finding their own Chinese zodiac statutes and walking up and down the small hills of the the amphitheater. My two daughters also liked Ryman's towering flower and petal sculpture titled LongHouse 6, which they felt like was something out of Alice In Wonderland.
While the art museum is family-friendly, the museum is best for children older than 5. With the exception of a few sculptures, kids are not allowed to touch or climb on any of the works, and there is no running or wild playing. LongHouse is a place for quiet discovery, best enjoyed in a contemplative manner. There are hidden paths, intricately-carved benches, and areas to sit and take in the art and nature.
Enjoy the tranquility of the museum grounds. Photo by Diana Kim
Know Before You Go to LongHouse Reserve
- The museum is open Wednesdays through Sundays, 12:30-5pm.
- Visits are by timed-ticket reservation only. Make your reservation here.
- Cost is $15 for non-member adults, free for children and stduents.
- Fully vaccinated guests can walk around the gardens without a mask; otherwise, masks must be worn during the entire visit.
- No pets, food, or drinks are allowed.
- Bathrooms are available near the exit.
- You'll need about an 1 hour and 15 minutes to tour the whole garden.
- You can use your phone to access highlights narrated by Larsen. Check out the museum's events page for tours, garden highlights, talks, and family days.