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Walter De Maria’s Landmark Adjacent Installations The New York Earth Room (1977) and The Broken Kilometer (1979) to Close for Conservation Work

First Major Conservation Project to Take Place in the Works’ 45-Year History

June 15, 2022, New York, NY – Dia Art Foundation announced today forthcoming conservation work on two of Walter De Maria’s iconic installations in Dia’s permanent collection: The New York Earth Room (1977) and The Broken Kilometer (1979). Located in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City, these large-scale installations have been open seasonally (from September to June) for more than four decades. They are emblematic of Dia’s long-standing commitment to preserving artworks beyond the scale and scope of traditional institutions.

The installations will close on June 19, 2022, when work will begin to upgrade the infrastructure (including HVAC systems) of the galleries at 141 Wooster Street and 393 West Broadway. The conservation work will enable both sites to reopen on a year-round schedule. All planned work has been undertaken in discussion with Walter De Maria’s estate and with the advice of conservators and experts on the artist’s work. The Broken Kilometer will reopen in fall 2022; The New York Earth Room will reopen in early 2023.

“These works are uniquely beloved in New York City’s cultural ecosystem and I am delighted to begin this vital project to ensure their preservation for future generations. I am also looking forward to inviting visitors to experience the installations year-round,” said Jessica Morgan, Dia’s Nathalie de Gunzburg Director. “The care of such ambitious works of art lies at the core of Dia’s ethos. We are dedicated to securing their legacy for many years to come.”

The conservation work is part of a multiyear plan to revitalize Dia’s constellation of sites in New York State, funded by a 90-million-dollar capital campaign which Dia successfully completed at the end of 2021. Alongside the conservation of the De Maria installations in SoHo, the project encompasses: the renovation of Dia Chelsea, which reopened to the public in 2021; infrastructural needs and landscape work at Dia Beacon; and the strengthening of Dia’s endowment to support operations across all sites. 

Commissioned by Dia in 1977 and installed at 141 Wooster Street, The New York Earth Room spans over 3,600 square feet of floor space and consists of 250 cubic yards of earth, measuring 22 inches deep. It is the third Earth Room sculpture by De Maria and has been on public view since 1980. The first Earth Room sculpture was installed in Munich in 1968 and the second in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1974; neither exists today.

The Broken Kilometer, at 393 West Broadway, was commissioned by Dia in 1979. The work is comprised of 500 highly polished, round brass rods, each measuring two meters in length and five centimeters in diameter; the rods are placed in five parallel rows of 100 rods. The sculpture weighs 18 3/4 tons and would measure approximately 3,281 feet (or one kilometer) if all the elements were laid end to end. Within the five rows, each consecutive interval between rods increases by 5 millimeters; thus, the first two rods of each row are placed 80 millimeters apart while the last two rods are 580 millimeters apart. Metal halide stadium lights illuminate the work’s full area of 45 by 125 feet.

The New York Earth Room and The Broken Kilometer are two of four long-term installations by De Maria that Dia has maintained since the late 1970s. The Lightning Field (1977) and The Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977, a companion piece to The Broken Kilometer) are located in western New Mexico and Kassel, Germany, respectively.

Dia Art Foundation

Taking its name from the Greek word meaning “through,” Dia was established in 1974 with the mission to serve as a conduit for artists to realize ambitious new projects, unmediated by overt interpretation and uncurbed by the limitations of more traditional museums and galleries. Dia’s programming fosters contemplative and sustained consideration of a single artist’s body of work and its collection is distinguished by the deep and longstanding relationships that the nonprofit has cultivated with artists whose work came to prominence particularly in the 1960s and ’70s. 

In addition to Dia Beacon, Dia Bridgehampton, and Dia Chelsea, Dia maintains and operates a constellation of commissions, long-term installations, and site-specific projects, notably focused on Land art, nationally and internationally. These include: 

  • Walter De Maria’s The New York Earth Room(1977) and The Broken Kilometer (1979), Max Neuhaus’s Times Square (1977), and Joseph Beuys’s 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks, inaugurated in 1982 and ongoing), all located in New York City
  • De Maria’s The Lightning Field(1977), in western New Mexico
  • Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty(1970), in the Great Salt Lake, Utah
  • Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels(1973–76), in the Great Basin Desert, Utah
  • De Maria’s The Vertical Earth Kilometer(1977), in Kassel, Germany 



For additional information or materials, contact: 
Hannah Gompertz, Dia Art Foundation,, +1 212 293 5598
Melissa Parsoff, Parsoff Communications,, +1 516 445 5899
(U.S. press inquiries)
Sam Talbot,, +44 (0) 772 5184 630 (international press inquiries)

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