Mike + Doug Starn: Big Bambú Wows Visitors at Museum of Fine Arts

Mike + Doug Starn: Big Bambú, This Thing Called Life, will be on display through September 3, 2018

Mike and Doug Starn have reconceived their ongoing Big Bambú project for Houston, filling the Museum’s austerely graceful Ludwig Mies van der Rohe–designed galleries with a monumental wave of bamboo.

An installation of some 3,000 poles lashed together, This Thing Called Life rises 30 feet from the floor of Cullinan Hall, cresting onto the balcony of Upper Brown Pavilion. Visitors are invited to cross a bridge of bamboo that winds from the balcony into the wave’s curl, then continue on the path deep into the sea of Big Bambú. The path extends to the floor, where you can explore the bamboo eddies and currents at ground level.

The sea has long been a part of the Starns’ lexicon: an emblem of great age, yet continually new and changing.

Taking inspiration from the architecture of nature, the Starn brothers began to use bamboo in their studio in 2008. Their first public installation—on the roof of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2010—was experienced by more than 600,000 visitors, making it the ninth most-attended exhibition in that museum’s history.

They have since created other iterations of Big Bambú around the world, but This Thing Called Life is the first public staging indoors, in active dialogue with an existing structure.

The artists have been widely recognized for more than three decades for their conceptual photographic work, and this installation features three gigantic photographs of previous Big Bambú incarnations. Folding and draping off the wall and ceiling, these huge prints attest to the ongoing nature of Big Bambú, a process that never comes to rest, akin to life itself.

► How to Experience Mike + Doug Starn: Big Bambú

Before purchasing your tickets, read these visitor guidelines carefully:

All Big Bambú ticket holders may experience the exhibition at ground level.

Please note these requirements for accessing the upper-level pathway.

Guests need to:

  • Sign a waiver. Save time by downloading the waiver now to print, sign, and bring with you.
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes / no bare feet, heels, or flip-flops
  • Confirm they are able to walk without assistance
  • Be at least 3.5 feet tall (42 inches)
  • Confirm they are age 6 or older
  • Have one adult for every two minors between the ages of 6 & 12 in the group
  • Access the pathway without babies in carriers or strollers
  • Exercise sensible judgment at all times when on the pathway, especially if using cameras, smartphones, etc.

Still have questions? Call 713.639.7300 during business hours, or go to www.mfa.org to learn more about visiting the Museum.

► Exhibition Admission

Tickets, available online and on-site, include access to the Museum’s art collections. Please be sure to read visitor guidelines carefully before you purchase your tickets.

  • MFAH Member (Join now!)         Free
  • Adult (19+)         $18
  • Senior (65+ with ID), Military (with ID),
  • College Student (19+ with ID), Youth (13–18)       $13
  • Child (12 & younger)      Free

Make It a Combo! Save when you combine your tickets to Mike + Doug Starn: Big Bambú with tickets to Peacock in the Desert. A two-exhibition combo pack is only $25—general admission included!

Get tickets at www.mfah.org/tickets.

photo credit: V. Sweeten