Science museum

A new sculpture to welcome visitors to the Science Museum

Crews are working Tuesday to install a 25-foot interactive sculpture in front of the entrance to the Oklahoma Science Museum in Oklahoma City. “Finity, 2020” is created from five shapes that rotate when pushed. (Photo by Kathryn McNutt)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Visitors to the Science Museum Oklahoma will be greeted by a 25-foot interactive sculpture by world-renowned artist and inventor Tom Shannon after installation this week.

The sculpture entitled “Finity, 2020” is the first permanent installation of a work by Shannon in the United States. It features five stacked shapes that move, reflecting the sky and clouds above.

“Not only is it iconic and beautiful, but you can touch it and spin it,” said museum president and CEO Sherry Marshall. “It’s such an imposing structure right in front of the building. It draws you in and sets the tone for your natural curiosity.

The five pieces are arranged to look precariously balanced, as if they could fall off when touched. However, a push on the bottom form triggers a spinning motion that rises upwards and “seems impossible,” Marshall said.

Crews began installing the sculpture on Tuesday. A public dedication is scheduled for August 25.

The sculpture is part of a new public gathering space called Founder’s Plaza which honors John Kirkpatrick, the museum’s founder. It will be on permanent loan to the museum from the Kirkpatrick Family Fund.

Kirkpatrick’s grandson, Christian Keesee, knew the artist and liked his vision of how science and art blend together, Marshall said. Keesee is responsible for making this possible, she said.

Museum staff are excited to see it come together after delays due to the pandemic, steel and concrete shortages and recent heavy rains. The sculpture was made in China.

“It’s been a massive undertaking,” Marshall said.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to build for a while,” Shannon said Tuesday. The New York-based artist is in Oklahoma City and works alongside construction crews to ensure accurate and proper installation.

“I like the idea that young people can affect something big, the feeling of inertia,” he said. He expects the sculpture to respond to wind currents as well.

Shannon has created a series of mobile levitating sculptures that float on magnetic fields. If they are moved out of the field, they fall.

“I was looking for a counterweight, something that could be pushed and moved without falling over,” he said.

The shapes of “Finity, 2020” are the five geometric solids whose faces are all identical, having equal angles and edge lengths – the pyramid, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron. These shapes are considered key to the development of geometry and mathematics, the disciplines that underlie all Western science.

Shannon said he’s been using the Platonic Solids as an “artist’s vocabulary” for some time, and this piece is the latest manifestation of that.

“Tom Shannon is known for his scientific and artistic mind,” Marshall said. “He is definitely the right artist to help demonstrate the interplay of science and art.”

The mission of the Science Museum Oklahoma is to enrich lives by revealing the wonder and relevance of science by demonstrating the relationship between physical science and everyday experiences.