of an Exhibit
Published on November 06, 2007
Visit Date: Year 1983
No one who’s seen the Sun Painting could ever forget it. Bob Miller created this luminous exhibit during the Exploratorium’s early years. A heliostat on the roof, far overhead, tracks the sun’s movement and reflects the sunlight off a mirror down into the dark, cavernous space. Bouncing off other mirrors, the light reaches a wall of prisms, breaks into a luminous spectrum of colors, and reflects off mylar panels. These bright-hued scribbles of color shift with moving air currents and whenever someone discovers that the prisms can be set rotating. Like a stained glass window in an ancient cathedral, the Sun Painting prepares those entering the Palace of Fine Arts for a transformative experience.
Bob Miller’s death last week is an occasion for remembering and celebrating what he contributed to the science center field. Light, color, and human perception were hallmarks of the Exploratorium’s iconic early exhibits. Bob was a crucial part of that creative work, which has served as an inspiration to others all over the world. (Tom Nielsen wrote in an ExhibitFiles review about his experience with one collection of these exhibits, Seeing the Light.)
Bob Miller was also famous for his Light Walk, which (one time I went with him) included a stop outside to look at the tiny images of the sun coming through a simple sheet of peg board. Nearly every time I see one of those tiny pinhole suns—sometimes with the shadow of a branch moving across it—I remember Bob. Now, more than ever.
Thank you, Bob.
The Exploratorium’s explainers have created a site for recording memories of Bob Miller: http://explainers.wordpress.com/2007/10/30/memories-of-bob-miller/
Jim Spadaccini shares his recollections here: http://www.ideum.com/blog/2007/11/02/remembering-artist-and-educator-bob-miller