The New York Earth Room (1977), Walter De Maria

If you knew that there was a building in New York City with an entire floor filled with dirt, what would you do? I ran there!

Up on the second floor of 141 Wooster Street in SoHo is this massive interior “sculpture” by the artist Walter De Maria. Filling up the 3,600 square feet of space at 22 inches of depth is 250 cubic yards of earth weighing in at 280,000 lbs. (Wow, that’s a lot of stats!)

The artist created this gallery in 1977 as his third Earth Room (the first two being in Germany – both no longer on display) and it has been open to the public since 1980. The New York Earth Room was intended to be a 3 month exhibition but thanks to the Dia Art Foundation, it is still a popular site 41 years later with Bill Dilworth as its caretaker for the past two decades.

When you arrive, be sure to press the buzzer to gain access to the stairwell (the elevator will not take you to the second floor). Though it is a quick visit, it’s fascinating to see the whole space filled with dirt, which is regularly watered. Please note that touching of the work and photography is prohibited.

Admission is free and is open mid-September to mid-June, Wednesday to Sunday, from 12-6 pm (closed from 3-3:30 pm). Though it’d be impossible to put a price on this exhibit’s worth, it’s been said that it would easily be over one million dollars!

For additional information (including holiday closings), please visit: https://www.diaart.org/

 

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