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James Turrell's "Three Gems" open during Friday Nights!

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James Turrell, "Three Gems", ca. 2005

James Turrell, Three Gems, 2005. Concrete, plaster, stone, and LED lighting. FAMSF, foundation purchase, gift of Barbro and Bernard A. Osher, 2003.68. Photography by FAMSF

Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden

Visit James Turrell's Three Gems in the Osher Sculpture Garden during its optimal viewing time, around sunset. Open 5–8:45 pm.

In 2014, artist James Turrell (b. 1943) contacted the Museums to review Three Gems, a site-specific “skyspace” located in a grass-covered hill in the Osher Sculpture Garden. The work was approaching its tenth anniversary at the de Young, having been installed during the opening of the new building in 2005. 

Turrell’s work often challenges assumptions about space and perception. Three Gems achieves this through the lighting system installed inside the domed room and its oculus, which frames the sky and highlights the changing atmospheric conditions.
The artist and several members of his team visited the installation in July of 2014 and requested alterations. Turrell asked to replace the existing system of neon lights with LEDs, which produce more intense lighting and are more energy efficient. The new LED lights are turned on approximately forty minutes before sunset and begin to change colors twenty minutes later. In total, the program lasts for seventy minutes, with the lighting returning to white for the final half hour.

In addition to the lighting alterations, the concrete bench in the skyspace was patched and painted, the installation’s domed “stupa” re-surfaced, the stone floor cleaned, and the ceiling repainted. The Museums worked with Fong & Chan Architects and Swinerton Builders, the original construction team, to design and implement the changes.

Visitors to Three Gems are now better able to experience the often subtle, occasionally dramatic effect of this artwork, and to appreciate Turrell’s observation that “light is not so much something that reveals, as the revelation itself.”

Ticket Information

Programming and general admission to the permanent collection galleries are free of charge during Friday Nights at the de Young.

Pricing still applies to visit the special exhibition Ed Ruscha and the Great American West.

Contact Information

Public Programs
(415) 750-7694