Celestial Vault

In the dunes of Kijkduin near The Hague, where the presence of light can be so tangible, the American artist James Turell has created a place to gaze at the shy, called Hemels Gewelf or Celestial Vault.

Celestial Vault

The Celestial Vault is not a sculpture in the landscape, but a tool to look at light and colour. The entry can be found at the Machiel Vrijenhoeklaan and you will need to climb a staircase.


Walking through a tunnel or by descending a steep staircase, the vault exposes a bench.



If you lie down in the bench with your head back, the sky takes on the appearance of a dome, resting on the edge of the elliptical bowl.
On top of the dune there is another bench, with a view of a similar celestial dome, but then from horizon to horizon.

In his work, Turell is inspired by the Dutch astronomer Marcel Minnaert (1893-1970), who wrote extensively about this phenomenon.
The material nature of light – as if you can touch it – and the shape of the sky can not be explained as physical phenomenon, but are the result of your own observation, an impression created inside your own head.

Through the ages many artists have been inspired like Turrell by the quality of light at the coast of Holland.
Major examples are 17th century painters like Jan van Goyen and painters of the Haagse School like Jacob Maris and Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch at the end of the 19th century.


The pictures where taken during a walk with Maurits Burgers (Walking with Maup).


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