Any All 
Guides   Attractions   Itineraries   Reserve a Room  Deals   Books   Travel Planner


This hilltop paradise was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family, beginning with the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil. His business acumen made him, in his day, the richest man in America. Now a historic site of the National Trust, this extraordinary landmark has been continuously and meticulously maintained for almost 100 years.

Tours of Kykuit take you through the main rooms of the six-story stone house and then out through the expansive, terraced gardens containing Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller's exceptional collection of 20th-century sculpture. Artists represented include Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, and David Smith, among many others. The private, underground art galleries with Governor Rockefeller's collection of Picasso tapestries, and the cavernous Coach Barn, with its collections of classic automobiles and horse-drawn carriages, are also part of the experience.

Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller's Sculpture Collection

Of the hundreds of works of art Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller collected, it was sculpture to which he was the most drawn. Between 1935 and the late 1970's, he assembled an extensive collection, and while Nelson Rockefeller made major gifts from his fine arts collection to museums, often anonymously, his finest sculptures, 120 objects, remain at Kykuit.

From both a historical and aesthetic point of view and because of the range and completeness of the collection, these sculptures are the most important part of the art collections at Kykuit. The collection includes works by those sculptors in Europe and the United States who are widely thought to have created some of the most original art of the twentieth century—Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti, Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, Louise Nevelson, and David Smith. Nelson began to acquire many of these works after World War II, when most collectors remained preoccupied with painting, and he assembled works by both well known and little known sculptors. In the 1950's, when he purchased works by such sculptors as David Smith and Reg Butler, they were relatively obscure.

Because it needs a place with space around it, sculpture often looks best on a site framed by architecture; garden settings are particularly ideal because they are intentionally created as spaces in which people experience and relate to the natural world and seek solace and renewal. At Kykuit, the house acts as a visual anchor for the collection of sculpture around it: visitors walk through various three-dimensional spaces -- enclosed gardens, terraces at different levels whose walls and hedges create volume, and garden pavilions and gazebos. Sculpture is fundamentally a physical presence; it creates a physical and psychological impression. In paintings, volume is only described on the surface of the canvas. Viewers cannot enter a painting as they can the space of a sculpture. Indeed, the presence of three-dimensional art can enliven the space around it. Bosworth certainly envisioned sculpture in this role when he created the Kykuit gardens, directly based on European Renaissance models in which sculpture was integral to the design.

The Gardens at Kykuit

In 1906, as the construction of Kykuit had reached the first floor, John D. Rockefeller Jr. hired William Welles Bosworth to plan the formal gardens. Bosworth, like JDR Jr. a native of Ohio , had received his degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1889 and had worked for the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. While traveling in Europe between 1899 and 1901, Bosworth attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and there met Chester Aldrich, later hired to design the first stage of the house at Kykuit.

Bosworth's Kykuit garden, including the entrance facade, is considered his best work in the United States , where he practiced until the end of World War I. In 1913, with Kykuit virtually completed, JDR Jr. hired Bosworth to design a substantial eight-story townhouse (now demolished) at 10 West 54th Street in New York City , next door to his parent's home. Beginning in 1926, as general secretary of the French-American Committee for the Restoration of Historic Monuments, Bosworth supervised the restoration of the palaces of Versailles and Fontainebleau and the cathedrals at Rheims and Chartres , projects all funded in large measure by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Except for the 1913 extension of the entrance forecourt, the gardens Bosworth planned in 1906 are essentially what exist today - the inner garden with the brook garden and Temple of Aphrodite beyond, the west terraces with the swimming pool, and the semicircular rose garden. Trees that have died have been carefully and appropriately replaced while others have matured, but the architectural framework of the gardens is still visible. Bosworth's use throughout the garden of roughly cut stones and boulders is consistent with the traditional rustic aesthetic of a country garden; a city garden would have demanded finely cut stonework. Bosworth's goal was both to maintain and enhance the river view and to create an accessible garden with many and varied walks on which visitors and family might enjoy nature transformed. In the overall plan, the river view from the west porch took prominence. Bosworth intended to transform this view into a panorama comparable to the paintings of Thomas Cole or Frederic Church.

Visiting Kykuit

Tours of Kykuit originate from Philipsburg Manor Visitor Center on Route 9 in Sleepy Hollow. Select your tour from:

Continuous Tours - Duration: 2 1/4 hrs - Tours continuous throughout the day - Daily except Tuesday The House & Inner Garden Tour - Perfect for first-time visitors, the standard House & Inner Garden Tour includes the main floor of the six-story stone house complete with its fine furnishings and art; the subterranean art galleries; the Inner Garden and West Terrace, with spectacular views of the Hudson River and the outdoor sculpture collection; and finally, the mammoth Coach Barn with its collection of antique carriages and classic automobiles. This tour is wheelchair accessible. Individuals: $22 $20 $19 $ 11

Modern Art Tour - This brand new tour offers a comprehensive view of the modern art at Kykuit, focusing on Nelson Rockefellers leadership as a collector and connoisseur of art as influenced by his mother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, one of the founders of the Museum of Modern Art. The tour particularly focuses on the 1950s through 1970s, highlighting many artists and their works from the extensive collection of paintings and outdoor sculpture. The tour concludes with a visit to the Union Church of Pocantico Hills to view the Matisse and Chagall stained glass windows commissioned by members of the Rockefeller family. Individuals: $30 $30 $30 $20

Timesaver Tour - Duration: 1 3/4 hrs - Mon, Wed-Fri @ 2:35pm - The Timesaver Tour, offered on weekdays, is a shortened tour that includes the main house and a visit to the lovely Inner Garden and West Terrace, with its splendid Hudson River views. The Coach Barn and art galleries are not included on this tour. Individuals: $19 $19 $19 $ 11

Garden & Sculpture Tour - Duration: 2 1/4 hrs - Wed, Sat, & Sun @ 11:15am - This tour includes the morning and brook gardens, the Italian garden, the Adam and Eve fountain area, as well as several terraced areas featuring classical and contemporary sculpture. The Garden & Sculpture Tour does not include any buildings and is not wheelchair accessible, due to the many steps and hilly terrain. The tour is not recommended for persons with balance or mobility problems. Sturdy shoes are highly recommended. The tour is given rain or shine. Individuals: $22 $20 $19 $ 11

The Grand Tour - Duration: 3 hrs - Daily except Tuesday @ 9:45am & 1:45pm - This tour includes all the best features of the House & Inner Garden Tour and the Gardens & Sculpture Tour, and it is the only tour that includes a visit to the second floor balcony of the house, with splendid east-west views through the sitting rooms and important paintings from Governor Rockefeller's collection. Individuals: $36 $36 $36 $26

Selected Highlights Tour - Duration: 2 1/4 hrs - Weekdays except Tuesday @ 1pm - For visitors who want to see both the house and more of the gardens and sculpture, and wish to exclude the coach barn and the art galleries, the Selected Highlights Tour is an excellent choice. This tour is not wheelchair accessible; it runs rain or shine. Individuals: $22 $20 $19 $14

Specifics on visiting Kykuit were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
Valley Info - Travel Trade - Press & Media - Subscribe - Contact Us - Site Map
This official I Love NY website represents a unique private-public partnership between Hudson Valley Network, Inc., The Gold Standard and Hudson Valley Tourism, in close collaboration with and support from the regional tourism industry.

Copyright © 2008 by Hudson Valley Network, Inc., all rights reserved.
Please review HV/Net's "Privacy Policy" to understand the uses we make of the information that we gather here and on our other Internet sites. For more information or to make suggestions on how we can improve this service to you please do not hesitate to let us know via the "Contact Us" page and tell us your ideas and suggestions, good experiences and bad ones too. We grow and improve our presentations from your ideas.