Kids will love a visit to Opus 40, a Hudson Valley treasure



Just one of the Hudson Valley's many sculpture parks

kids, families, day trip, sculptures, Opus 40

Opus 40, located between Woodstock and Saugerties in Ulster County, provides an excursion that will awe parents and fascinate kids as they explore the 6.5 acres of earthwork sculpture created by pioneering artist Harvey Fite. In addition to lessons about art and creativity, Opus 40 offers insights into history, theater, and music.

Fite was a Texan who came East in the late 1920s to attend the divinity school that later became Bard College. He found himself more drawn to the theater, joining the Maverick Theater Company in Woodstock and later touring in moustache-twirling melodramas. In an idle moment backstage, he picked up an empty wooden spool left behind by the wardrobe mistress, and he began to carve the spool with his pocketknife.

This introduction to sculpting led into the massive land sculpture that is Opus 40 when Fite bought an old bluestone quarry, one of many that had been essential to the local economy in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He turned the discarded slag stones into walls, towers, passages, and pathways that sprawl across the property, with one section designed as an amphitheater. Many plays have been performed in the amphitheater, as well as concerts by such notable musicians as Richie Havens, Pete Seeger, Sonny Rollins, and Jimmy Cliff.

The mind-boggling scale and variety of the structures built by Fite are an inspiration for anyone, child or adult, walking through his creation. However, keep in mind that running, jumping, and climbing on the sculpture are not permitted.

Pandemic rules

Ordinarily the property and its museum are open April through November. Although the pandemic has canceled this year's performances and educational programming, Opus 40 is now open for visits of a maximum of two hours, for groups of five or fewer, Thursdays to Mondays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are absolutely required in advance to ensure social distancing. Visits are currently free for Opus 40 members, essential workers (for now, that means teachers and healthcare workers), and children younger than 5, although they must have tickets. For others, general admission is $11, with seniors and students paying $8.

Opus 40 is located at 50 Fite Road, Saugerties, NY. For more information, and before visiting, go to https://opus40.org/



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