Artwork Data


Hemels Gewelf


James Turrell




natuursteen, aarde, beton en gras


l. 40 m, br. 30 m, h. 5 m

Artwork Location


Machiel Vrijenhoeklaan 175, Den Haag

City district


GPS data

52.06308333259, 4.2184294356598 View on map

Artwork Description


Lying on your back, head far back, the sky above you takes on the shape of a dome resting on the crater rim. Normally you have the idea that the sky hangs flat above you, in reality the sky naturally bends with the curve of the earth. The American artist James Turrell makes this tangible in his 'Celestial Vault'.

Turrell conceived his 'Celestial Vault' in 1992 on the occasion of an international congress on landscape architecture and the visual arts. He was there at the invitation of Stroom. Four years later, his work of art was realised in the Kijkduin dunes.

The work of art consists of an elliptical earthen mound with a diameter of 40 by 30 metres. Because the crater is covered with marram grass on the outside, it completely blends into its surroundings. Visitors can enter the crater via a six-metre tunnel. In the middle, they will find two stone benches. On top of a nearby dune top, Turrell has placed another bench. This offers a panorama in which the boats seem to be sailing through the air.

The idea for The Hague vault is based on Turrell's life's work: Roden Crater in the Painted Desert of Arizona. In this extinct volcano, he created various spaces. Light, space and perception are the core concepts of his oeuvre. With his works of art, this artist, who is also a pilot and mathematician, creates situations in which you can physically experience light. There, you become aware of your own way of perceiving.

The writings of Marcel Minnaert (1873-1970) are important for Turrell's oeuvre. This astronomer from Utrecht wrote, for example, about the misconception that we perceive the setting sun as a big ball. His practical suggestion: see that same setting sun through your legs. With his 'Celestial Vault', Turrell also breaks through your conditioned way of looking. A unique experience that is very popular.