Our last stop on our Kentucky weekend was to Bernheim Forest. We wouldn’t have known about it had several locals not told us about it. One of them all but implored us to go, just to see the giants.

The giants at Bernheim Forest

Danish artist Thomas Dambo likes to make big things out of wood. His signature work has become giants like these, which he’s built in forests around the world.

This is Little Nis, who is considering his reflection.

The Giants at Bernheim Forest
The Giants at Bernheim Forest

Danmbo built three giants at Bernheim, but spread them out in the forest so you’d have to hike a while to see them. This is Little Nis’s mother Mama Loumari, who’s expecting another baby giant.

The giants at Bernheim Forest
The Giants at Bernheim Forest
The Giants at Bernheim Forest

Deep in the forest you finally find Little Elina, who’s playing marbles with boulders she found lying around. Dambo builds his giants out of local wood. Unsurprisingly, given that this is bourbon country, the Bernheim giants are made in part from barrel staves.

The giants at Bernheim Forest
The Giants at Bernheim Forest
The giants at Bernheim Forest

I photographed these giants with both my Canon PowerShot S80 and my Nikon FA and 35-70mm Zoom Nikkor on Agfa Vista 200. I found the giants challenging to photograph. I couldn’t find good compositions that fully communicated their size and charm, and the reflecting sun played havoc with even exposures. If I spent more time with the giants, however, I’m sure I’d start to feel at one with them and better photographic compositions would follow.

Bernheim Forest is a gem, and it’s a little south of Louisville just off I-65. We went straight home to Zionsville from here, and the trip took us just 2½ hours. You can visit for free on weekdays, and there’s an affordable charge to visit on the weekends.

Us at Bernheim Forest

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14 responses to “The giants at Bernheim Forest”

  1. J P Avatar

    I have never heard of these. They don’t look all that old, which makes me wonder what is done in the way of weatherproofing. Which probably says something about my artistic sensibilities that while everyone else is admiring the sculptures I am fretting over maintenance.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The day we visited was the day construction was slated to end, so they were brand new! There was no actual construction going on during our visit so I’d say they finished ahead of schedule.

  2. Stuart Templeton Avatar

    Wow – those are fantastic and what I lovely thing to find when you’re out for a hike. You did a great job of the exposure given the conditions – it’s really hard when you have such contrasting light.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks! Yes, the light did make exposure challenging, and I suppose I got pretty good ones all things considered.

  3. analogphotobug Avatar

    Never heard of these either. I’ll make a effort to see them next time I visit home.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      They’re brand new, and should be there for a while, a few years I’ll bet.

  4. M.B. Henry Avatar

    What!!! Lol! :) What a neat find and great pictures!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The locals in Bardstown told us we had to go see them so we did and we are glad!

  5. kurt m Avatar
    kurt m

    Kentucky is very pretty, and your pictures bring back a lot of memories. I was there in the springtime in the1980s for basic training at Ft Knox, before little nis and the gang. Were these taken a couple of weeks ago, I was thinking it would be greener now.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I made these in late March. I’m sure the place is way more green today!

  6. DougD Avatar

    Wow, I had a look at some of the other trolls around the world. Very interesting, I am wavering between “not my cup of tea” and “I want one on my front yard”

    Like JP, my first thought was maintenance. I’d sure hate to have to coat that thing in Thompson’s Water Seal…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I loved visiting them, but I’m quite clear that I don’t want one in my front yard!

  7. Vickie Avatar

    Was the hike strenuous? Hills to climb? Or more flat walking. About how much distance is the total hike? Thanks.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It was all on flat or nearly flat ground, with no rough terrain. I forget how long of a hike it was but the Bernheim Forest web site might tell you.

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