Skyspace: The Color Inside – Austin, Texas - Atlas Obscura

Skyspace: The Color Inside

A view-altering observatory at the University of Texas. 


Artist James Turrell’s light and space installations can be found across the globe. His “Skyspaces” incorporate changing colors and shadows, and offer alternative frames for viewing the sky.

Turrell began creating his Skyspaces in the 1970s, and as of 2013, he’d created 83 of them, in places including Arizona,  Japan, Ireland, London, the Netherlands, CaliforniaLas Vegas. Now, you can add the rooftop of the student union at the University of Texas to the list.

Called “Sky Space: The Color Inside,” The UT installation seats up to 27 people in a dome-like structure which has an oculus open to the elements. Inside the room are hidden lights which project a sequence of colors on the curved white ceiling in such a way that makes it appear that the sky itself is changing hues. It’s interesting, meditative and trippy all at the same time.

Turrell considers the art only viewable at sunrise and sunset. Unfortunately, the Student Activity Center isn’t often open at sunrise, but the room remains available for quiet contemplation throughout the day.


Know Before You Go

The sunset viewings must be booked online in advance (free). Since the installation is open to the elements, consider the weather before you visit. Because the student center is typically closed at sunrise, there are few sunrise viewings.The Sky Space is open to a rooftop public space of the Student Activity Center, so you may hear the "student activity" during the sequence. An attendant will be present to check reservations but students and the curious may come and go. Seating is on a stone slab that is slightly heated during the winter months. Light blankets will be offered in cooler temperatures.Cloudy conditions will in no way lessen the experience.The sequence is automated and timed to activate at sunrise and sunset. If you come to the SAC when it opens at 7am, you may catch a portion of a sequence. 

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