In 1977, New York’s Earth Room opened its doors to 250 cubic yards of earth in a room on Soho’s Wooster Street. It’s unbelievable this art installation still exists in a one-loft apartment filled with wall-to-wall dirt. And no, there’s not much to see at this free exhibit except actual waist-high dirt. Regardless of the lack of visual stimulation in this space, the experience is surreal.
The warm room feels like a sauna with no air conditioning or much ventilation. Curators regularly care for the dirt by watering it and reported the occasional mushroom sprouted within its nearly 300,000 pounds of dirt.
Oddly, the room starts to feel cool after you spend a few minutes in it. You might notice the docent wearing something totally inappropriate, like a heavy sweater for such a warm room. You can only look at the Earth Room and not enter it, and unauthorized photography is not permitted.
Sculpted by artist Walter De Maria, there were similar exhibits in Germany that no longer exist. New York’s Earth Room is still standing within a nondescript building in Soho, welcoming visitors to its warm dirt room that smells like the earth. It’s more mesmerizing than you would expect.
The Earth Room
141 Wooster St.
New York, NY 10012
tel 212 989 5566
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