Walter De Maria’s Landmark Installations The New York Earth Room (1977) and The Broken Kilometer (1979) to Reopen Following Conservation
First Major Conservation Project to Take Place in the Works’ 45-Year History
January 11, 2023, New York, NY – Dia Art Foundation announced today the conclusion of 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). Both sites will reopen to the public today, January 11, and will be accessible year-round free of charge, Wednesday to Sunday, 12 to 3 pm and 3:30 to 6 pm.
Located at 141 Wooster Street and 393 West Broadway, respectively, in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City, these large-scale installations were open only 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.
Taking place over the course of six months, the conservation work included upgrades to the galleries’ infrastructure (including HVAC systems), enabling both sites to remain open on a year-round schedule. A new reading room has been established adjacent to The New York Earth Room. This project was executed in discussion with De Maria’s estate, conservators, and experts on the artist’s work.
“We are delighted to reopen these beloved installations following a six-month-long conservation project, which has secured their preservation for future generations, as well as allowing visitors to experience them throughout the year,” said Jessica Morgan, Dia’s Nathalie de Gunzburg Director. “Facilitating and caring for ambitious, long-term works lies at the core of Dia’s ethos. I know that visitors will enjoy these special sites of quiet contemplation for many decades to come.”
The conservation work is part of a multiyear plan, funded by a $90 million capital campaign, to revitalize Dia’s constellation of sites in New York State. Alongside the conservation of the De Maria installations, 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. Dia has engaged Architecture Research Office (ARO) on all these building projects.
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 was established as a permanent public site in 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. 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 long-standing 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, email@example.com, +1 212 293 5598
Melissa Parsoff, Parsoff Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 516 445 5899 (U.S. press inquiries)
Sam Talbot, email@example.com, +44 (0) 772 5184 630 (international press inquiries)