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Stanford University
Josiah McElheny: Island Universe

Josiah McElheny: Island Universe

February 23–August 18, 2019


Josiah McElheny (U.S.A., b. 1966), Detail of Island Universe, 2008. Chromed-plated aluminum, handblown and molded glass, electric lighting, and rigging. © Josiah McElheny. Courtesy White Cube, London. Installation view at Cantor Arts Center. Photograph by Johnna Arnold

Freidenrich Family Gallery (221)

Bringing artist Josiah McElheny’s Island Universe to the Cantor is a rare opportunity to examine both cutting-edge art and physics. The monumental installation is a visual response to recent theories of the multiverse, an elaboration of the Big Bang theory. The installation is both visually stunning and carefully constructed according to measurements that map the history of time. McElheny worked closely with distinguished Ohio State University professor of astronomy David Weinberg to develop those measurements. The five hanging chandeliers, which incorporate precise scientific calculations, are modeled on the chandeliers of the Metropolitan Opera in New York—iconic midcentury design objects that were made in Vienna in 1965. That year, the first physical evidence for the Big Bang theory became public, launching popular interest in space science. McElheny’s installation—made of chromed metal, transparent handblown glass, and lights— represents potential universes whose dense origins expand outwards.

Watch the conversation between director Susan Dackerman and artist Josiah McElheny
from the March 1 Opening Celebration


This exhibition is organized by the Cantor Arts Center. We gratefully acknowledge generous support from Maryellie Johnson and Rupert Johnson, Jr. Additional support is provided by the Halperin Exhibitions Fund, the Robert Mondavi Fund, The Clumeck Endowment Fund, the Elizabeth Swindells Hulsey Exhibitions Fund, and the Contemporary Collectors Circle.

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The Cantor is open to the public, Wednesdays–Sundays 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. We’re always free. Advance registration is not required, but it helps us plan if we know who's coming.

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The Cantor Arts Center is located at the intersection of Museum Way and Lomita Drive in the heart of the arts district on the Stanford campus. The Cantor faces the Bing Concert Hall across Palm Drive, northwest of The Oval and the Main Quad.

328 Lomita Drive at Museum Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5060

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Parking is limited. Stanford has a new contactless process to pay for parking, using the ParkMobile app, website, or phone. Prior to your visit, we recommend you visit the Stanford Transportation website to learn more about the updated visitor parking process.

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