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3 Abandoned Works of Art in the Middle of Nowhere

You need to see these abandoned masterpieces.

sculpture parkR Gombarik/Shutterstock

A Sculpture Park at the Bottom of the Ocean

You’re snorkeling around a coral reef when you see it a human face. Wait, make that hundreds of human faces. You’ve just entered the world of Jason deCaires Taylor, an undersea artist who sculpts life-size human forms and then installs them on the ocean floor. In 2006, Taylor opened the world’s first underwater sculpture park, off the coast of Grenada. In 2009, he expanded to Cancún. Sculpting figures from pH-neutral concrete, Taylor aims not only to give tourists something to look at but also to give sea critters somewhere to live. Installations like the Silent Evolution, a string of 400 human figures, function as artificial coral reefs, simultaneously offering sea life a new home and drawing tourists away from the overexposed natural reefs in some of the world’s most-visited waters.

presidents park `Pablo Iglesias Maurer/ Courtesy Howard B. Hankins

43 Disintegrating Presidents

In the rural countryside of Croaker, Virginia, amidst the rolling green fields that carpet every farm, 43 Presidents sit decaying in an empty pasture. Ranks of powerful men assemble in the weeds, their lips pressed tightly together, their eyes fixed unyieldingly ahead, their skin crumbling with every strong gust of wind. The scene is reminiscent of a battalion ready for combat, as lines of dutiful men await a call to action. Of course, this is not a real battlefield, and the Presidents that inhabit this green are, in fact, statues. The 43 intimidating busts, sculpted by David Adickes, were commissioned for an art exhibit in Virginia’s President Park. In 2010, the exhibit closed due to lack of visitors, and—determined to preserve the Presidents—Howard B. Hankins transported the sculptures to his private farm. In the absence of a tourist attraction license, the Presidents lie isolated in Hankins’ field—at least until Hankins can fund their transport to a public exhibit.

Rone empire abandoned mansionCourtesy Rone

An ‘Empire’ in an Abandoned Australian Mansion

Tucked in the foothills of the Dandenong Mountain Ranges—the lower mountains in Melbourne, Australia—a crumbling, forgotten mansion is the site of an elaborate, yet secluded art exhibit. As bushes and weeds climb through the aging wooden floors, dust powders every surface, and the wind forces leaves through the broken windows, intricate paintings of beautiful women adorn the walls and libraries of each room. This work, entitled “The Music Room,” is part of a larger exhibit, “Empire,” that occupies the many rooms of the mansion. The artist, Rone, designed the exhibit with the intention of enabling explorers of the abandoned mansion to forge their own meanings and experiences from the paintings. Yet, in discovering the remnants of life that still litter the mansion—the decaying piano, the scattered sheet music, a wine bottle still upright on the ground—viewers are bound to feel a common sense of evanescence; the exhibit exudes the fleetingness of possessions, the fleetingness of art, and the fleetingness of life. These exhibits are nearly as eerie as the artwork in these haunting and beautiful abandoned churches.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Carley Lerner
Carley Lerner is a freelance writer and former editorial intern for Reader's Digest. She is a member of the Class of 2021 at Duke University, where she writes for the school newspaper, The Chronicle.