Finishing Roden Crater

John Hill
18. January 2019
Image: Screenshot from film by Klaus Obermeyer/

Thanks to generous donations and a partnership with Arizona State University (ASU), Roden Crater – the work of celestial land art James Turrell has been shaping in Arizona's Painted Desert for four decades – may open to the public by 2024.

Although rapper Kanye West's $10 million donation to the Skyspace Foundation, the non-profit organization responsible for all aspects of Roden Crater, has brought Turrell's magnum opus headlines in recent days, it's the partnership with ASU that will be most helpful in ensuring its completion and its accessibility to the public. According to ASU, "The enterprise seeks to raise at least $200 million to preserve Turrell’s legacy by building infrastructure at the site, including a visitor center, and ensure conservation of one of the nation’s most renowned cultural assets." ASU is no stranger to Turrell; "Air Apparent," one of the artist's Skyspaces, sits on its Tempe campus.

Want to know more about Roden Crater and the people involved in its creation? This short film is a good place to start:

Although it won't be 100% complete per Turrell's plans by then, the tentative opening of Roden Crater in five years time is great news for fans of Turrell, land art, and naked eye observation. It also coincides with the opening or completion next decade of a couple other major works of land art in the American West: Michael Heizer's City, which is expected to be completed in 2020; and Charles Ross's Star Axis, a naked eye observatory that is projected to open to the public in 2022.

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