Progress Update: James Turrell Skyspace

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The restoration and renovation of Corinthian Hall, which opened to the public in October 2021, was Stage I of a multi-staged, multi-year project to rehabilitate the entire 3.5-acre historic property. The museum has been working with International Architects Atelier and artist James Turrell on architectural design for the Turrell Skyspace. The Skyspace will be a meaningful, innovative way to honor the history of the museum’s former beloved planetarium and create a new, significant experience and destination for our City and State.


A James Turrell Skypsace is a specifically proportioned chamber with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky. Skyspaces are site-specific and can be autonomous structures or integrated into existing architecture. The aperture can be round, elliptical, or square. Viewers sit inside the chamber to observe the sky. A sequenced light program inside the Skyspace, designed by Turrell, interacts with the atmospheric light coming through the aperture in the ceiling to create a spectrum of colors and an immersive sensory experience particularly robust at dawn and dusk. There are more than 85 Skyspaces in the world, and the Kansas City Museum’s Skyspace will be the first in Missouri or Kansas.


The Skyspace will be its own independent 700 square-foot structure on the west side of the Kansas City Museum property. To create the Skyspace, the museum will repurpose the existing underground cooling tower structure—a concrete box that contains HVAC equipment which is being relocated. Visitors will enter the Skyspace through a walkway that descends into the chamber. Visitors will sit approximately 11-feet underground in the Skyspace chamber and view the sky through a square oculus with a retractable roof in the ceiling of a limestone structure approximately 14-feet above ground. The Skyspace is being acoustically designed for programs and music performances to celebrate Kansas City’s music history and heritage. In 2017, Kansas City became a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Kansas City is the only UNESCO Creative City of Music in the United States.


The Kansas City Museum’s Skyspace is yet another creative project that advances the mission, vision, and overall master plan for the Kansas City Museum property while honoring the museum’s history. More information about the Skyspace may be found at: https://kansascitymuseum.org/skyspace/.

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