“Luminaria” Fabulous

We came back from home and worked Adventureland last Saturday and Sunday.  Its almost over.  I think everybody is ready for it to be.  Wednesday, Rich was watching the news and they had a show going on downtown DesMoines at the Cowles Commons, DesMoines Performing Arts.  It was called a Luminaria.  This one is entitled “Arboria” by Architects-of-Air, Alan Parkinson of  Nottingham England.    Website:  Architects-of-Air.com


“Arboria” is about a half a football field long when set up.

A Luminarium is a sculpture that people enter, to be immersed in radiant light and color.  Since 1992, the Architects-of-Air’s 22+ luminaria have enchanted over 2 million people in 41 countries around the world.  This is the only one touring in the US.  Their are others touring around the world.

The tickets were only $5, what a deal.  So I ordered them on line.  Thursday morning we woke up with rain.  It finally stopped around 10:30.  We arrived downtown about 10:45 and found a parking deck about a block away.  What we didn’t know was, the whole downtown is connected by sky walks.   How cool that was.


We went from our parking garage straight to the sky walk.  We followed it across the street and through the building to the other side of the block.  Finally across the street in the sky walk and we were in the right building, took the escalator down and outside we went to the “Luminaria”


Being we already had purchased tickets, we were able to go right in.  First thing we did was to take off our shoes and put them in the cubies.  The whole structure was made of vinyl plastic.  We had to stay on the plastic to enter.


Finally we had a short speech from the Volunteer before we entered.  We were allowed to wander around at our own pace.  We could sit down or lay down if wished to enjoy the beauty and sounds.  Be careful of the walls and try to stay on the flat part of the walk as the edges start to lift up.  Parents, please keep your Children with you…….Yes Please……So in we went through the Air locks……….First Impression…………..”BREATHTAKING”……


Each room or area has a dominate color.  The first room was green. ( There’s Rich )


The ceiling was soooooo  beautiful.  It is entitled “Arboria” because of the influence of the geometric shapes and graphic representation of trees.


On to the next room.  As you look around, you see round tunnels.   People at the other end just standing and staring.  Some even laying down……More color down the tunnels…


You end up in the main room.  Words cannot even explain the feelings that you see.  You have been told that the tunnels are zippered on, and that every everything else was hand glued together.  All the different colors are glued by hand.  Then you look up………


Whoaaaa…………The end of the stripes have a small blue dot.   This picture does not do the colors justice.  This main dome was 33 feet high.  As we stood their, we listened to the music.   It was so soothing and beautiful.  It was soft sounds of piano composition and wildlife sounds originated from the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest by musician Alice Eldridge.  It was as if time stood still.   You wanted to just stand their and look.  Your eyes wandered up….around….down…in circles….People just sat down or layed down to enjoy the experience.  Rich said he wanted to sit down also, but he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to get up……lol….getting old we are….lol…


Traveling on, we took one of the tunnels, and we arrived in the blue room….In front of us a a beautiful blue tree trunk.  It rose up so gracefully to a beautiful ceiling.


This dome was 26 feet high.  ( There’s Rich again )  As you walk, you almost feel unstable…..dream like….


Around the edge of each room are little pockets.  A long slice of color is added.  They said these are little out of the way rooms that you can sit and just take this all in.


They even let wheelchair and people with canes enter.  They wrap the wheels and protect the bottoms of canes.  I thought this was so amazing as I seen this man wander through the tunnels.  He was so amazed and thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere.  They told me they do like to bring the physically and mentally impaired people in on the slower days. It gives them a great calming effect.  I can’t even imagine how they must enjoy it.  It is out of the realm of anything they have ever imagined in their world.   As far as that goes, ours also. Their were a number of Volunteers inside that were helpful with info, and especially one that gave me all her time.  She loved her Volunteer time and was so enthusiastic to help and answer questions.


This is the red room.  Again you can see the geometric influence on the ceiling.  As you walked around, you not only felt a little unstable, but I also felt like things were hazy….dreamy….It was just such an indescribable feeling….


Now all this light you see is just natural light shinning through the plastic.  It was a dreary overcast day, but yet the inside was so bright and vibrant with color. I can’t imagine what it would be like on a sunny day.


The inside was very comfortable in temperature.  It was air conditioned.  You didn’t hear the air blowing, but around the outside little pocket areas, you would find the air ducts and feel the air blowing in.


We are blue lovers, so this is our favorite room.  We probably walked through the tunnels at least twice.  We stood in the rooms and the especially the big dome room for quite awhile, taking it all in.  The looks on peoples faces were amazing to see.  Some were laying on the floor with eyes closed, some eyes open just staring at the ceilings.  People were just looking and turning in amazement.  If i didn’t know better, I felt I had just visited HEAVEN. Could this be what it is like?   Finally Time to Go.   We went out side and sat by the Fountain….


This reflecting pond was also a wading pond, open for the kids to walk through.  It also had some “Dancing Waters”.  lol.   We sat their for along time, just taking it all in.  Looking at the whole sculpture and seeing where we were.  The Big Dome Room….You can see the different colors, the Red Room and all the little pocket rooms around the edge.  I read that it takes around 4 hours to unpack and weight it down, and then only 30 minutes to blow it up.  Taking it down is fast, 90 minutes and ready to roll.  As we sat their, a volunteer who was just relieved was walking by.  We started talking about her job of Volunteering for the Civic Center and all the activities.  Such a Nice Lady.  Then she told us about a food court in the next building over.  We were sure hungry by now.  Back we went into the building and up the escalator to the sky walk.  We walked several blocks to the end and back just to see everything.  The Food Court Building was called the Kaleidoscope.  They had food and shops on 3 floors.  We choose loaded spuds…..


Huge potatoes loaded with butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon…….Hmmmmmm….Bill? Under $15 for 2 with drinks……Finally done and off we went to walk the sky walk again.   Now maybe we are behind the times, or we just came out of the corn fields, but this is magnificent.  You can park your car in the parking garage and walk the sky walk to work.  Where ever that may be.  The whole down town is connected.  Even the Civic Center, and all the Iowa Federal Court system.   In the center of it all is the Kaleidoscope Hub.  Walk to get your lunch and back to work.  Never go outside till you leave the parking garage.  We even seen a sign of a Condo for sale…..Open your door and your at work…..lol….Can’t imagine the price…..I looked at the signs for Sky Walk closing.   I found one that said the doors close from 2 am-6am.   You could go walking anytime, any weather.   Finally we walked back to our parking garage.  We left and drove around the city.  There is remodeling and building everywhere.  New buildings going up with new sky walks attached.  Old buildings being turned into Condos and Office space.   The city is growing and renovating.  Finally we headed back across the river to the east.  Directly across was the Iowa State Capital.  It stood proudly and stately on the hill with Court Street leading straight to it.  It reminded me of Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington DC.  The Iowa Capital has 5 domes total, with the fifth dome in the middle covered in Gold …….It was shinning Brilliantly in the sun.   We stopped and toured it also, but that will be the subject of the next blog.


So much info to share….After that we hunted up an Rv Center and toured Motor Homes.   “We were trying to decide how to spend a half a million if we had it…..lol….”


4 thoughts on ““Luminaria” Fabulous

  1. All I can say is, WOW!!! What a great and interesting blog. You REALLY need to write a book with all your adventures. You just might make that half million for your next RV (LOL). Keep up the great blogs and tell the world about all the great places we have here in the great USA to see.


  2. Hi,
    How lovely to come across your blog and read about your luminarium experience!
    So glad you enjoyed your visit and wanted to share it with others.
    There is so much that you say that is core to our intent when designing, building and touring the luminaria.
    Kind regards,
    Mado from Architects of Air


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