Jul 22, 2022 - News

Texas lights exhibit courts controversy

A light installation in California.
A "Field of Light" installation in California in 2021. Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Some conservationists are pushing back against an acres-wide light installation scheduled to open in September at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Driving the news: Tickets for ​​"Field of Light," created by British artist Bruce Munro, went on sale this week. But many dark sky aficionados have been critical of the project.

How it works: The installation will illuminate 16 acres in the Texas Arboretum through 28,000 vibrant solar-powered fiber optic pods, creating a glowing field that changes color.

  • Tickets start at $20.

What they're saying: "That a nature center would do this baffles me," wrote Michelle Bradley Campanis on Facebook.

  • "It's such a horrible decision by a conservation organization, although I'm sure they will sell lots of tickets and make lots of money," Soll Sussman, a board member of Hays County Friends of the Night Sky, told Axios.

The other side: "With any installation, our goal is to be thoughtful and considerate of the landscape, as well as the topography and wildlife, and artist Bruce Munro shares the same sentiment," wildflower center spokesperson Catenya McHenry told Axios. "We invite everyone to come and experience this installation that we hope will reconnect them with nature."

  • The installation will follow migratory bird guidelines set by the Texas Audubon Society, which recommends "lights out" from 11pm to 6am. The Field of Light exhibition will be illuminated 5-11pm.
  • It will use solar-powered LED "low lumen" light spheres that produce the lowest amount of light possible, wildflower officials say.

Flashback: "The hope is it brings people together and makes them aware of each other and the environment," Munro said in a video announcing the collaboration with the wildflower center.

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