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Land art introduction > Sun Tunnels

Nancy Holt

American, 1938–2014
Sun Tunnels
Site: Great Basin Desert, Utah
Materials: Concrete, steel, and earth
Dimensions: overall dimensions: 9 ft. 3 in. x 68 ft. 6 in. x 53 ft.; diagonal length: 86 ft.; each tunnel: 18 ft. 1 in. x 9 ft. 3 in. diameter

Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels (1973–76) is a large-scale installation in northwestern Utah that consists of four large concrete cylinders, arranged on the desert floor in a cruciform pattern that aligns with the sunrise and sunset during the summer and winter solstices. In addition to this perfect solar framing, each of the cylinders is pierced with smaller holes representing the stars of four constellations: Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricorn. Holt's design allows for an ever-changing play of celestial light and shadow upon the resolutely material surfaces of her work. Part timepiece and part compass, Sun Tunnels is also a "camera" of sorts, dependent on natural light, with the concrete tubes acting as viewfinders that frame precise images which, in Holt's words, "bring the vast space of the desert back to human scale."











LEFT | October 20, 2012, Sun Tunnels viewing with Nancy Holt, organized by the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) as part of Nancy Holt: Sightlines, a traveling exhibition organized by the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, on view October 19, 2012–January 20, 2013 at the UMFA. UMFA photo.

artlandish event

Sun Tunnels Community Meet-up
Saturday, September 30, 2017
14 pm | FREE
Join the UMFA for a fun day of art and science at Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels, an iconic work of Land art located in Utah's west desert.

All ages and abilities are invited to explore the landscape, create art, and learn about the environment of the desert.    

sun tunnels

Sun Tunnels Self Guide

Directions and Travel Tips

nancy holt at the umfa

Artwork in the Permanent Collection

Nancy Holt: Sightlines exhibition

land art


Spiral Jetty

ARTLandish: Land Art, Landscape, and the Environment



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