The Earth Room

Neighborhood: SoHo
Type of Place: Arts

New Yorkers love their city, dirt and all, but címon. Isnít it a bit much to take a perfectly useful SoHo loft and fill it up with a room full of it? Apparently not, because back in 1977, using nothing but wheel barrels filled with the earthy brown stuff, thatís exactly what sculptor Walter De Maria did. And, after almost 35 years, the dirt is still there.

The Dia Foundation, which commissioned this work and continues to maintain it, calls the dirt an ďinterior earth sculptureĒ. It takes up 3,600 square feet of floor, measures 22 inches deep, and weighs a total of 280,000 pounds!

I had wanted to visit this spot for a while and Iím glad I finally did. I was exhausted from running around the city all day and I needed a break. So I headed down to 141 Wooster Street to have a look see. The New York Earth Room is not one of those galleries that stares you in the face from the street. Youíll need to get buzzed in, then walk up the stairs or take the elevator to the second floor.

I would suggest coming here after a long day of work or an exhausting day of touring the city. This place will recharge you. Itís just the dirt, eight floor to ceiling windows, and snow white walls... nothing more. That is unless you count the less than friendly man sitting at the front desk. Heíll answer your questions, but I got the impression he had more important things to do then talk to me about dirt.

Regardless of his aloofness, Iím glad I went. In a city that never sleeps, where noise at times is impossible to block out, this simple room put me at ease, cleared my head, and gave my well played out body and mind a peaceful rest. After I left, I was ready to start my day.

Visit to learn more about The New York Earth Room and other Dia Foundation exhibits and happenings.

Picture taking not allowed at The New York Earth Room.
  - Andrea Muller

The Earth Room
141 Wooster Street
New York, NY 10012