UT to reopen Turrell Skyspace, ‘The Color Inside’ on Feb. 14

Leila Saidane, News Reporter

Nearly two years after closing, the James Turrell Skyspace, “The Color Inside, is scheduled to reopen Monday, Feb. 14, with the help of a fundraiser that raised $5,000. The exhibit is free and open to all.

“The Color Inside, located on top of the William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center, is one of 82 skyspaces installed worldwide by artist James Turrell. Before its closing, students visited the space for its nightly sunset light sequence, its musical performances or its quiet seating areas. The exhibit closed in March 2020 when the pandemic hit and hasn’t reopened since.

UT Landmarks, the University’s public art program, met its $5,000 goal for the Skyspace reopening through a fundraiser, which began this year and ended Feb. 1.

The money collected in the fundraiser will go toward maintenance and upkeep, such as repainting, cleaning and ensuring the computer runs the digital light sequence, said Logan Larsen, Landmarks’ digital content coordinator. Larsen said UT Landmarks saw a huge decline in donations and funding after the onset of the pandemic, and the exhibit has remained closed due to a lack of funding for its maintenance.

“We don’t charge admission to experience the installation (or any of our works) and rely on donations to ensure that we can keep our collection and public programs free and accessible to all,” Larsen said.

From the opening of the Skyspace in 2013 until March 2020, the Skyspace had over 75,000 visitors each year, Larsen said. Larsen said now that visitors are able to return to the Skyspace, he hopes they will consider donating.

“Visitors will not notice any changes to the Skyspace or light sequence,” Larsen said. “When visitors return to the space, they will experience the installation just as James Turrell intended.” 

Landmarks will also reintroduceSongs in the Skyspace,” a monthly music series performed inside the observatory, Feb. 20. The performances include Hum A Cappella, a South Asian fusion student a cappella group. 

Varsha Iyer, architecture senior and a soprano in Hum A Cappella, is looking forward to performing in the space again in March because it’s different from any other space the group performs in.

“Our sound hits the walls, and then it circulates around the space,” Iyer said. “It makes it really easy for us to listen to each other in that space, and you start hearing parts that you’ve never heard before. … It really sounds like one cohesive product which is really amazing.”

Reservations for the exhibit’s nightly sunset light sequence are booked through the end of February, but new seats are posted daily on the exhibit’s website in addition to an in-person standby system which also offers last-minute seats for cancellations or no-shows. The Skyspace is also accessible when the Student Activity Center is open.

UT alumnus Sammy Jarrar said he enjoyed the quiet the Skyspace provided on campus.

“It was more just a time to sit there and reflect and meditate in the middle of the day,” Jarrar said. “I feel like on the UT campus it’s really hard to find spaces … that are quiet and that you can just sit in without running into people. The fact that it’s kind of hard to find makes it really conducive to that kind of experience.”

Editor’s note: The article originally stated that the Skyspace was open to all with a reservation, and it has been corrected to say it is open regardless of a reservation when the William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center is open. A reservation is needed for the exhibit’s nightly sunset light sequence. The Texan regrets this error.