Land art

Museums unite in campaign to save massive land art project

Nevada Desert site around Michael Heizer’s City is under threat

Michael Heizer’s City in the Nevada Desert

American museums including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma), the Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA), the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the Walker Art Center are campaigning for the conservation of “Basin and Range”, the stretch of the land surrounding Michael Heizer’s City.

Michael Govan, the director of Lacma, told The Art Newspaper this morning that: “The extraordinary Basin and Range landscape by itself is worth protecting. Michael Heizer's art must be protected too. Together, the environment and the artwork comprise one of the nation's greatest natural and artistic treasures.”

The museum has been circulating a petition to protect the land on social media. “Michael Heizer’s City needs your help… Protect the land, protect the art #protectCITY”, read a Lacma tweet this morning, which linked to the campaign.

Lacma has signed the petition, “Protect Basin and Range”, which urges “Congress and the Administration to take whatever steps necessary to ensure permanent protection for Basin and Range before it is too late”, according to its website. Museums including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum and the Walker Art Center, are lending their support to attempts to preserve the land, according to a Lacma spokeswoman.

Heizer has spent the past 43 years constructing this massive land art project, which will be one of the biggest sculptures in the world once complete. City, which is located in the Nevada Desert, measures more than a mile-and-a-half in length and a quarter-mile in width, and comprises a complex of enormous geometric mounds and sculptures. It is in the final stages of completion and will be open to the public once finished.

Scott Tennent, Lacma’s director of executive communications, wrote a blog on the museum’s Unframed site this morning, lobbying for City to be designated with ‘monument status’. “This would preserve the land—which has been threatened in the past—and keep it from being developed into a missile site, a location for oil and gas exploration, and a nuclear waste rail line.”

The petition is the latest in a series of efforts to conserve the land. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada introduced a bill in September, “The Garden Valley Withdrawal Act”, that would protect 805,100 acres of Federal land from mineral and energy development.

More information about the petition can be found here: