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Center of the Universe.

Center of the Universe

Field review by the editors.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Built in 1988 by artist Bruce Nauman, the Center of the Universe is a sculpture radiating in five directions -- east, west, north, south, and up -- on the campus of the University of New Mexico. Created at a cost of $100,000, it looks like a blocky, hollow, giant concrete jumping jack, and has been unflatteringly compared to a bunker. In fact, when the Center was first completed, it triggered campus protests and a lot of nasty graffiti. Nauman told the Albuquerque Journal at the time, "I didn't make this to upset people."

The Center of the Universe was only built because Nauman's first proposed piece, Abstract Stadium, was rejected as too dangerous; the Campus Planning Commission feared that students might climb it and fall off. The artist later admitted that turning this second sculpture into the Center of the Universe only occurred to him midway in its development.

The "center" part of the Center of the Universe is an inscribed bronze disk set onto a storm grate -- so it never floods -- where the five intersecting angles meet in a kind of tunnel. The disk has become scuffed over time, probably because it receives a lot of cross-universe traffic from UNM students, who like to ride their bicycles through the Center. No one seems bothered by it any more, and sunlight pouring down the shaft to illuminate the disk in the darkened structure gives it a visual punch worthy of something as important as the Center of the Universe, even if it has been unappreciated.

Center of the Universe

Yale Blvd, Albuquerque, NM
In the center of the University of New Mexico campus. I-25 exit 225. Drive east on Lomas Blvd for around half-mile, then turn right onto Yale Blvd. Cross Las Lomas Rd and enter the campus. When the road turns left, park. Walk south through the park and pass the pond on the right. The Center will be straight ahead, between two buildings: Mitchell Hall and Ortega Hall.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, Albuquerque, NM - 5 mi.

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