Spectacular ‘Moon Dust’ installation at Baltimore museum

Spencer Finch’s ‘Moon Dust (Apollo 17)’ installation. Image courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art

BALTIMORE – The Baltimore Museum of Art is transforming Fox Court, the stately columned lobby in the 1929 building designed by John Russell Pope, for the next seven years with an extraordinary light work by acclaimed artist Spencer Finch.

On view Feb. 21 through Oct. 14, 2024, Spencer Finch: Moon Dust presents an abstract sculpture comprised of 417 LED light bulbs that together represent the molecular structure of the moon dust gathered from NASA’s 1972 Apollo space mission. Finch’s installation conveys scientific information and offers a poetic experience as its glowing composition evokes the sensation of being immersed in a star-filled sky.

“This magical work of art will provide visitors with a dazzling, transcendent experience in the BMA’s neoclassical building,” said Christopher Bedford, museum director. “We are thrilled that it will illuminate the museum for such an extended period of time and are very grateful to Baltimore collectors Joanne Gold and Andy Stern who have made this long-term loan possible.”

First presented at the 2009 Venice Biennale, Moon Dust (Apollo 17) creates a precise, three-dimensional scale model of the moon’s atomic makeup. Finch represents the chemical elements of moon dust with light bulbs in varied sizes, arranging them on fixtures in patterns that mimic their bonds in molecules. The differently sized bulbs correspond to the relative weights of elements; the smallest indicating oxygen and the largest signifying both iron and chromium.

“The embrace of rational thought and wonder within Moon Dust’s welcoming expanse of light is an amazing metaphor for the discovery and delight that occurs throughout a visit to a museum like the BMA,” said Kristen Hileman, senior curator of Contemporary Art. “It has been very rewarding to work with Spencer Finch and the lenders to adapt the piece to the specific architectural context of the BMA’s original building.”

Moon Dust (Apollo 17) is on extended loan from the collection of Joanne Gold and Andrew Stern, who are generously sponsoring its presentation at the BMA in loving memory of Lenore E. Gold.