The University of Chicago is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction with a series of events across many diverse fields this fall. The arts in particular provide a unique perspective to examine the meaning of the scientific achievement and its complex legacy—most notably at the site where history was made on Dec. 2, 1942.
Henry Moore’s sculpture Nuclear Energy was installed in 1967 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the nuclear reaction. The 12-foot tall bronze sculpture, which resembles a human skull or mushroom cloud, encapsulates both the hopes and the fears of atomic energy. To honor the sculpture’s 50th anniversary, San Francisco-based Ogrydziak Prillinger Architects installed a temporary commemorative piece called Nuclear Thresholds—hundreds of 75-five-foot-long cords of thick black rubber based on computational modeling of unstable processes.
“Public art at the University is meant to challenge and spark conversation, and we are thrilled to be able to host temporary art installations like Nuclear Thresholds, which add dynamic new dimensions to our permanent works,” said Alison Gass, the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum of Art.