Museo Aero Solar
Museo Aero Solar
Tomas Saraceno, 'Museo Aero Solar'. Photo: Klaus Deiters


Museo Aero Solar



Bristol City Council is currently in the process of producing a number of new public art commissions in South Bristol as part of the Hengrove Park development. As part of this programme Bristol City Council is working with Arnolfini to present ‘Museo Aero Solar’, a temporary collaborative event organized by an international collective including the artist Tomas Saraceno.

Museo Aero Solar, which is being staged as part of Arnolfini’s 50th celebrations and the exhibition ‘Museum Show’ is a solar-powered air balloon made from hundreds of reused plastic bags, with new sections being added each time it is reassembled in different cities. This “do-it-yourself” project originated from a series of conversations between artist Tomás Saraceno and writer Alberto Pesavento along with artists at Isola Art Centre in Milan, Italy, in 2007. The initial proposition to build “the first flying museum” emerged from a series of conversations about sustainable technologies and architecture, solar energy, and air control regulations. 

New sections of the balloon (or museum) are added each time it travels the world, thus changing techniques, drawings and shapes, and growing in size every time it sets sail in the air. Museo aero solar stands for a different conception of space and energy, both anomalous and forceful at the same time. The core of the Museo resides in the inventiveness of local inhabitants, not in its image: among collective action and art, do-it-together technology and experiment and is, as the artist has staged “a voyage back/forward in time”. 

Over the past years, Museo aero solar has been assembled in Sharjah (United Arabs Emirates), Isola neighborhood in Milan (Italy), Medellin (Colombia), Lyon (France), Rapperswil (Switzerland), Tirana (Albania), Ein Hawd (first recognized arab village in Israel), Minneapolis (U.S.A.), Bonames/Kalbach old airport(Germany), Carmignano/Montemurlo (Italy) and Arnsberg (Germany). 

Museo Aero Solar is a free public event and Arnolfini is inviting the public to help launch the balloon on Sunday 9th October at Hengrove Park, South Bristol. The event will follow a week of design workshops, practical making activities, film screenings and organic food.  We are working with local communities, schools and colleges in Hengrove including; South Bristol Skills Academy, where the balloon will be assembled over the course of the week, Perry Court School and Hengrove & District Community Association. 

If you are a school, community group or individual interested in working with the artists to make the balloon please contact or join in by taking your carrier bags to Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol’s Harbourside. 

For further information contact: Arnolfini Gallery, 6 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA. Tel: 0117 917 2300 

Museo Aero Solar 1
Tomas Saraceno, 'Museo Aero Solar'. Photo: Klaus Deiters

Museum Show 

One of the most curious tendencies in modern and contemporary art has been that of museums created by artists. Museum Show will be a large-scale exhibition – a museum of museums – displaying this comprehensive selection of highly idiosyncratic, semi-fictional institutions. Presented at Arnolfini in two chapters, beginning with Part 1 from 24 September – 19 November 2011, it will be the first exhibition to chart this particular tendency in contemporary art. 

Artists have continued consistently to invent their own institutions. The reasons for practitioners deciding to work in this way have varied greatly between artists – from critique directed specifically towards institutions of art, to more contemporary examples that focus their attention towards wider social and political realms of cultural hegemony. 

Across its two chapters, Museum Show will present museums by approximately 40 artists from across the spectrum of career status, canonical to emerging, and from around the globe. The exhibition presents ‘museums’ that employ a classic ‘museological’ approach, including Marcel Broodthaers’ seminal Musée d’Art Moderne, Départment des Aigles, or the absurdity of Bill Burns’ Museum of Safety Gear for Small Animals, through to broader, more conceptual understandings of a museum infrastructure, such as Tom Marioni’s Museum of Conceptual Art – a functioning bar and an early example of ‘convivial’ artwork in the US, to the abjection of the Museum of Ordure, or the utopia of Museo Aero Solar – a floating museum made of thousands of recycled carrier bags. 

The opening of Museum Show Part 1 will also mark the landmark occasion of Arnolfini’s 50th anniversary, and the culmination of a year of celebration. 

Tomas Saraceno 

Born in Argentina and currently working in Frankfurt, Germany, Saraceno’s recent exhibitions include: Tomas Saraceno: Lighter than Air, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN which traveled and recently closed at the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston, TX, 2010 (solo); Cloud Cities, Atelier Calder, Sache, France, 2010 (solo); Galaxies forming like water droplets along a spiders web, featured in the main exhibition pavilion of Daniel Birnbaum’s 2009 Venice Biennale; Tomas Saraceno: 14 billion, Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden (solo) which traveled and recently concluded at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK; Psycho Buildings: Architecture by Artists, the Hayward Gallery, London, 2008 (group). Currently, Saraceno’s work is featured in Movin’ Space, KUNSTEN Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg, Denmark, through January 16, 2011(group). 


Arnolfini is one of Europe’s leading independent, contemporary arts organizations, and is the flagship art centre for the South West of England with 450,000 visitors annually. 2011 is the year of Arnolfini’s 50th anniversary. Since its foundation in 1961, Arnolfini has built an international reputation for commissioning and presenting innovative, experimental work in the visual arts, always with a strong emphasis upon audience engagement. Many thousands of artists and performers have been involved with Arnolfini during this time, often gaining their first opportunity before going on to long-term success, and this wealth of creativity has been appreciated and enjoyed by consistently large audiences. Much of this groundbreaking work would not have been made or shown in Bristol and the South West region without the Arnolfini. Previous major solo exhibitions at Arnolfini have included: Marcel Broodthaers, Bridget Riley, Richard Long and Liam Gillick, as well as more recently Cosima von Bonin in 2011. 

Museo Aero Solar / Arnolfini Bristol UK from Paul Gilbert on Vimeo.