Neukom Vivarium

Neukom Vivarium 1

While walking in Seattle for the first time, I stumbled upon the Neukom Vivarium. It’s part of the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park – but I almost missed it. Once I was inside the woman minding the store told me that it has irregular hours, so it seems that I lucked out, finding the doors unlocked.

It is, in effect, a giant terrarium. In 2006, Mark Dion installed a sixty-foot “nurse log” in a specially built enclosure, and termed it “a sort of Sleeping Beauty coffin.” The greenhouse is designed to mimic the environment of the forest floor, where the fallen tree would have decomposed and fed new life, if Dion had not moved it. As the log decays, other plants spring from it, so it’s always changing. Dion supplied the vivarium with tools & texts to help visitors figure out what’s going on.

I found it to be a calm quiet island at the edge of downtown. (Except for when the school groups came through.) If you find yourself nearby, stop in. It smells good in there.

(photos made with an ONDU 6×6 and a black-box homemade 6×12 camera.)

Neukom Vivarium 2

Neukom Vivarium 3

Neukom Vivarium 4

3 thoughts on “Neukom Vivarium

  1. yay! Good to see you posting Jeff! I have never been to or heard of this place! i missed it when I went to the sculpture garden. What a cool idea for a terrarium. I find the whole idea of nurse logs completely fascinating, especially when you are in the Coast Redwood forest. Those are some very, very old trees and when you also consider nurse logs to the age of the tree it’s gets a little mind blowing.

    Great images, too!


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