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Raleigh, North Carolina: Art Trail: Sensory Deprivation, Vollis Whirligig

Along the Art Trail you'll find the Cloud Chamber (for sensory deprivation and sky image projection), and a Vollis Simpson whirligig. Artistic giant pile of newspapers is gone.

NC Museum of Art

2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC
NC Museum of Art. I-440 exit 4 or 4B. Drive west and then quickly exit onto Blue Ridge Rd. Turn right, then turn right again into the parking lot of the NC Museum of Art. Park as far to the right and the back as you can, then follow the trail south back into the trees.
Daylight hours. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Art Trail is free.
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Visitor Tips and News About Art Trail: Sensory Deprivation, Vollis Whirligig

Reports and tips from visitors and Roadside America mobile tipsters. Some tips may not be verified. Submit your own tip.

Art Trail: Sensory Deprivation

The cloud chamber is closed right now due to weather damage to the trail.

[Sheryl Stark, 03/31/2019]
Art Trail: Sensory Deprivation

Sadly, the pile of newspapers has been removed. We saw it a few weeks ago, but when we brought our friends to see it recently, it was gone.

The cloud chamber (its formal designation) is not meant as a sensory deprivation chamber. The best time to see it is during the week when you can sit inside for about 15 minutes, and on a cloudy day when it looks pitch black when you first get inside. After about 5 minutes your eyes adjust and you can start to see light. After about 10-15 minutes you can see the clouds and the details of the trees outside plastered on the walls inside the chamber, through a small pinhole in the roof. At this point there's enough light in the chamber to see the other benches. It's a great mind-bending experience if you give it enough time and you go on the right day.

[Patrick Chu, 06/28/2010]

Pile of Newspapers.

Art Trail - Giant Pile of Newspapers

The public sensory deprivation chamber at the NC Museum of Art is interesting, but the rest of the art installations really take the cake. Vollis Simpson created a huge whirligig for the museum.

The neatest thing on the art trail is the humongous stack of newspapers hiding in the woods. It doesn't sound very impressive but it is! Height is about 20 feet, and eight feet or so across. The process of decay of the sculpture is what I find really interesting. The stack is now leaning a bit and one of these decades I'm sure it will topple over, but who knows how long that will take. [RA: the pile became unstable and has been removed.]

There is no fee for visiting the art trail which is open every day during daylight hours. The trail is self-guided.

[Greg Brown, 01/21/2010]

Electric fence guards the whirlygig.

Bzzt! Don't touch the whirlygig!

There's a new Vollis Simpson whirlygig on the grounds of the North Carolina Museum of Art, and Vollis has really outdone himself this time. This one's 35 feet tall and has way more moving parts than most of his recent work.

It also has a, uh, unique feature. The whirlygig farm in Lucama has been bothered by the occasional vandal (as evidenced by Vollis' brush with the law). And the last time I talked to Vollis, the first thing he wanted to know was whether the three smaller whirlygigs in downtown Raleigh had been "messed with."

And no, they haven't, I was happy to report.

The Art Museum has evidently solved the vandalism problem by putting the new whirlygig behind an electric fence.

[Dean Jeffrey, 08/24/2002]

Robot Greg begs to differ on the purpose of the fence: "Good Lord, this is not so! The whirlygig is in a field where several cows live. The electric fence is in place to keep the cows from wandering on to the museum grounds (as well as out on to the busy surrounding streets) not to keep the 'gig safe."

Nearby Offbeat Places

Gotno Farm DogGotno Farm Dog, Raleigh, NC - 3 mi.
Statue of Andy and OpieStatue of Andy and Opie, Raleigh, NC - 3 mi.
Birth Kitchen of Andrew JohnsonBirth Kitchen of Andrew Johnson, Raleigh, NC - 4 mi.
In the region:
Policeman-Ghost Made of Rocks, Clayton, NC - 18 mi.

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