Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

Skyspace – The Way of Color (2009)

On the grounds of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

James Turrell, Artist

600 Museum Way, Bentonville AR

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Just off the main path, on the grounds of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, I came across  a pavilion built into the side of a gentle hill in a clearing. Of course I walked over to investigate. Was it a burial vault, an ancient culture’s sacrificial altar, or maybe the museum’s public toilets?

This pavilion is actually an art installation. The space created puts you in the exact position and the right mood to experience a very carefully and precisely framed perfect circular view of the sky. It is amazing how pristine and pure the sky looks without any trees, buildings, or horizon reference to complicate seeing just the beautiful hue of a small view of the sky. The circular space has a stone bench around the perimeter with a steeply angled back. This puts the viewer in the just the right position to look through the oculus. The neutral toned ceiling slopes slightly upward to the knife edge of the oculus revealing the blue sky. During the day it was actually quite a remarkable experience. It was quiet, cool and absent any distraction – until high in the sky an airplane flew across the blue disc, reminding me of the world outside.

I can only imagine what the experience is like at dawn and dusk, when the sky changes color, and the artist’s LED lights paint the ceiling with an ever-changing  light show. I was not able to experience this event during this trip. Based on the description of the light show, it might be worth another trip to Bentonville. Another excuse to stay in the 21c Museum Hotel again…


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