Destination roundups

13 Stunningly Strange Sculptures That Will Mesmerize Your Kids

Last updated 2nd January 2018

At its best, family travel is all about seeing the kids’ faces light up with wonder. If you really want to see them light up, show them the world’s most brilliantly weird sculptures. What will your little explorers make of these?

Image credit: Lissa Poirot

“The Awakening,” Hamilton Township, New Jersey

Don’t wake this sleeping giant, located on the Grounds for Sculpture in Central New Jersey, near Trenton. There are nearly 300 vastly unique sculptures spread across 42 acres of outdoor park, varying in size and whimsy. Kids are often encouraged to interact and play on the sculptures, and the grounds features wild roaming peacocks, picnic areas, and restaurant straight out of the pages of “The Wind in the Willows,” Ratz.

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Image credit: Loco Steve/Flickr

Mud Maid, Cornwall, United Kingdom

In the Lost Gardens of Heligans, stumble across surprises in the Lost Valley & Ancient Woodlands. The iconic sculptures include the Giant’s Head, Mud Maid and Grey Lady and can be found on the sheltered Woodland Walk. The sculptures are wonderfully integrated into the natural landscape, created 200 years ago for the Tremayne family. A stroll in the gorgeous gardens (the largest restoration project in Europe) spread over 200 acres is a real treat for the family.

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Image credit: Jaison deCaires Taylor

The First Underwater Museum in the Atlantic, Grenada

Renowned sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor created the world’s first underwater sculpture park off the west coast of Grenada in the West Indies. The prolific diver and underwater photographer’s submerged works were listed in the Top 25 Wonders of the World by National Geographic. Over time, the art turns into coral reefs that support an entire ecosystem. Crucially, the sculpture park has succeeded in diverting tourists away from fragile natural reefs. The sculptures can be viewed from a glass-bottom boat. They also make for unforgettable diving and snorkeling experiences.

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The Child Eater, Bern, Switzerland

If you want to make it very clear what happens to kids when they’re naughty and not nice, take them to see The Child Eater fountain (Kindlifresserbrunnen) of Bern. The towering fountain’s ogre has been frozen in time, mid-chomp, for 500 years. There are sensible theories about the significance of this terrifying fountain – but the most plausible (and fun) theory seems to be that he’s the boogie man from Night of Fasting festival. That’s a lot less badly behaved children in Bern!

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Giant Floating Baby, Singapore

The sculpture Planet of a large baby that seems to be magically floating mid-air was created by artist Marc Quinn for Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. A reproduction of his son Lucas, the weight of the 9m long and 3m tall bronze baby is cleverly balanced on one hand, creating an illusion of a floating sculpture. The Gardens by the Bay have other quirky sculptures like The Giant Snail and The Magnificent Bull that will keep the kids occupied all day. There are also other attractions like the two Cooled Conservatories, Flower Dome, Clour Forest and the Outdoor Gardens.

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The Ferryman’s End, Wicklow, Ireland

The Ferryman’s End in Victoria’s Way sculpture garden is a terrifying but intriguing work of art. We all know kids are fascinated by the macabre. The sinking ferryman is a symbol of someone losing touch with the world. Oddly enough, the park was created by Victor Langheld in 1989 after he visited India in search for spiritual enlightenment. So in this contemplative space, East has been transported to the West with 24 black granite sculptures in the Indian Sculpture Park including the 14 ft Fasting Buddha bronze and the Dancing Ganesha. A delightful day trip from Dublin.

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Phase 2/Flickr

Big Blue Bear, Denver

The adorable 40-foot Blue Bear installation at Colorado Convention Centre by artist Lawrence Argent has become a huge hit with visitors. The artist wanted to transform the idea of convention centres as sterile spaces and it was such a success that it has now become a Mile High City icon. The curious giant bear is seen peeking into the lobby. Admit it, even as an adult, you want a selfie with this blue wonder.

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“Sharing a Biscuit” Sculpture/Bench, Seoul

Created by Ku Bom Ju, this is one of the oddest sculptures in the world located outside Bukcheon Museum in Seoul. The statue represents the culture of sharing and caring in Korean culture. Bukchon village, flanked by Gyeongbok Palace and Changdeok Palace, is a historical cultural area with the largest cluster of privately owned traditional Korean wooden homes in Seoul.

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World’s Biggest Gollum, Wellington, New Zealand

What’s more fitting than a massive Gollum statue to welcome you at the Wellington International Airport? Built by Weta Workshop, the 2,645-pound, 9.8 foot-high, 43-foot-long sculpture was created to celebrate The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The gleeful Gollum is reaching out to catch fish. The airport even renamed their terminal greeting passengers with a sign: ‘The Middle of Middle-earth’. In 2014, Smaug the Magnificent, considered to be the last of the great dragons in Middle Earth, joined Gollum and the Great Eagles at the airport. Precious!

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fry_theonly/Flickr

Peeing Statues, Prague

At the Franz Kafka Museum in Prague, you are guaranteed to keep your kids entertained near the funny, famous peeing statues. “Piss” by the renowned artist David Černý shows two mechanical men urinating on a map of the Czech Republic. The controversial artist also created an installation at Futura Gallery in Prague where you can climb up a ladder and stick your head into a sculpture’s bottom!

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Image credit: Daniela Pittaluga/Ecophiles (ecophiles.com)

Tarot Garden, Tuscany, Italy

The iconic Tarot Garden in Capalbio, Maremma is the legacy of the late French artist Niki de Saint de Phalle. The artist’s playful and surreal sculptures depict the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot cards. The Tarot Garden makes for a fantastic family day out as her vision was to create an interactive, magical world that encouraged people to play, explore and touch her works of art. Inspired by Gaudi’s Park Guell in Barcelona, the esoteric sculpture garden is a fantasy land the kids will love. The Tarot Garden can be visited from Rome and Siena. Rome to Capalbio takes about two hours on the train.

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Image credit: Airwolfhound/Flickr

Vertical Face II, Burghley House, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

The gorgeous Elizabethan Burghly House featuring a serpentine park holds delightful surprises in the Sculpture Garden. Here you’ll find the disembodied head of Vertical Face II – making for a slightly disturbing but memorable viewing. Apart from this intriguing sculpture, here you’ll find boulders like grinning Pacman faces and other contemporary works of art.

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Germain, Paris

Germain restaurant is a bold, quirky space designed by the Iranian-born French architect India Mahadevi. Sophie, a large striking yellow statue of a woman by French artist Xavier Veilhan, has half her body on the lower floor while her head seems to break through the ceiling to rest in the upper lounge area. The yellow complements the black and white floor, creating an arresting effect. Germain in the 6th Arrondissement in Paris, located at Rue de Buci.