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3 Years, 99 hay bales, 1 dream. The Ocotillo Observatory is the Desert Museum's long awaited inhabitable art installation.
3 Years, 99 hay bales, 1 dream. The Ocotillo Observatory is the Desert Museum's long awaited inhabitable art installation.
16 backers pledged $3,450 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$3,450

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"The desert is a big place. And for something to contend with the mountains and ever-spanning sandscape, it will have to be 'desert sized'."
"The desert is a big place. And for something to contend with the mountains and ever-spanning sandscape, it will have to be 'desert sized'."

In 2012, the Imperial Valley Desert Museum received a Stern Memorial Trust grant to support an Artist-in-Residence Program to investigate desert sized artwork. The visiting artist developed an interactive exhibit by researching examples of large-scale art across the country. Images were posted in the museum for visitors to “vote” on. Visitor input drove the direction of research, resulting in the rough concept for a lunar observatory.

                                                  Two years later

We are now entering into the second stage of the project. We have received a donation of hay bales for the structure and are set to finally build what we started. It will take, however, an additional three thousand dollars worth of construction materials to finish the job. We need to buy rebar to set the bales, wire mesh to wrap the structure, and stucco to finish the exterior. We are set to have the hay bales delivered in June, have the structure up and wrapped in late July, and then have the project completed by the end of the season.

section view
section view

The large art installation will be a “habitable” star gazing observatory, which combines the museum's stargazing parties (our largest, most popular, events) and the concepts revealed through the 2012 Stern Memorial Trust grant project. The observatory will be constructed out of hay bales, a low-environmental impact material, and will enclose the viewer in a structure that separates them from everything except the view of the rising moon and the stars. Drawing on the Desert Museum’s extensive Paleolithic and Archaic Period artifacts, the installation will be designed as a lunar observatory, blending Native American cosmology with new forms of desert art that will reflect modern ideas of spirit, landscape, view, and environment.

Risks and challenges

One day you are chilled to the bone by 60mph winds. The next, you are melting under the 120 degree desert sun. These are the working conditions of Imperial Valley, California: the hottest place to live in the United States.

We have roughed it this far, working through sandstorms both literal and figural. We have been beaten down, we have been helped back up. We have been encouraged, we have been discouraged. But HAY! We haven't backed down yet.

Now all that stands between us and completion is a couple, couple-thousand dollars. YOU were with us when times were rough. YOU voted on the direction of the project during the design phase. With YOUR help, we can get the job done. Join us in the journey of "Erecting the Ocotillo Observatory".

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    THANKS! - A thank you shout out on Facebook

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    VIP PASS - Experience the observatory first hand before anyone else on the opening night at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum's special Star Gazing event, plus, whether you attend or not, we will shout your name from the observatory to exist in the stars forever and post the video on Youtube.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    INCLUSIVE DEAL - Become a part of the observatory... literally. The VIP PASS plus a custom tile with your first and last name will be embedded in the structure, and you will receive a one-year, free membership to the Imperial Valley Desert Museum.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    OLLA GIFT BOX - The INCLUSIVE DEAL plus a hand made ceramic olla with your name carved in it. Expect a few surprises waiting inside the package as well.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    THE URSA MAJOR - The INCLUSIVE DEAL and the OLLA GIFT BOX, plus the signed original concept artwork for the observatory.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    THE CANIS MAJORIS - The structure will be named in your honor. For example, if Joe Schmo were to pledge 1,500 dollars, the plaque in front of the sculpture would read, "The Joe Schmo Observatory" with a brief bio... plus all the other rewards.

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Funding period

- (30 days)