Arts extravaganza at Fermilab to celebrate one of the world’s largest science experiments

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The Art@CMS event runs from Feb. 4 to April 22 and includes workshops and exhibits in the Fermilab Art Gallery and Water Street Studios in Batavia

15-0011-01.hrThe CMS detector at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland is not only a remarkable scientific instrument; it is also a work of art. It stands 50 feet tall, weighs 14,000 tons, and its thousands of wires and components work in concert to enable it to detect the smallest particles of matter in the tiniest fractions of a second. It is one of the two particle detectors that enabled the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012.

This magnificent machine is the core of an art and science project that has inspired dozens of other works of art. You will have the chance to see many of those starting next month when the Fermilab Art Gallery hosts the Art@CMS exhibit. First established last year by Michael Hoch, a physicist and photographer at CERN, the Art@CMS collection was created by professional artists working with CMS scientists.

More than 40,000 people have seen this exhibition in nine countries, including two prior installations in the United States. (Roughly 1,000 U.S. scientists contribute to the CMS experiment.)

The collection will be on display in the Fermilab gallery from Feb. 4 through April 22. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The eight artists featured in the exhibit work in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, collage and digital art. All of them have been inspired by the wonders of science and are excited to communicate those wonders in new ways to new audiences, Hoch said.

“Why am I inspired by the CMS detector? You just have to look at the high-resolution life-size picture of it that will be on display,” Hoch said. “There’s an intrinsic geometry that just grabs you. There is beauty in science that we want to communicate to a wider group of people, at the same time inspiring them and making them curious to understand more about the science.”

The Art@CMS exhibit at Fermilab will begin with a talk by Hoch and artists from Florida International University on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 4 p.m., followed by a reception in the art gallery from 5-7 p.m.

But Art@CMS isn’t just an exhibition. Hoch’s aim is to create a dialogue with the public, using art as a medium. To that end, the event will also include a series of workshops for students called Imagining Physics: Art Inspired by Fermilab, to be held at Water Street Studios in Batavia. Over five sessions, local high school students will tour the laboratory, learn about particle physics and be given space and materials to make their own art inspired by what they see.

This workshop will culminate with an exhibit of the students’ work at Water Street Studios from Feb. 25 to March 15. The exhibit will also include work from 10 local artists and will kick off with a reception on Saturday, Feb. 28, from 5-7 p.m. Water Street Studios is located at 160 S. Water St., Batavia, and is open Thursdays through Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

“Having the Art@CMS pieces here at Fermilab is outstanding,” said Georgia Schwender, curator of the Fermilab Art Gallery. “But having the chance to connect the art and science of the CMS experiment with students outside the laboratory makes this event a true example of our mission.”

The exhibit will include new work from Lindsay Olson, Fermilab’s first artist-in-residence. Olson has spent months exploring Fermilab behind the scenes and has produced more than half a dozen pieces inspired by the work of the laboratory’s scientists. Olson’s art reaches for the same goals as the Art@CMS exhibit as a whole: to use an artistic language to bring science to those who might not otherwise experience it.

The Imagining Physics workshop is full, but every other Art@CMS event is open to the public. The Fermilab Art Gallery in Wilson Hall is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The exhibit will be open during Fermilab’s Family Open House on Sunday, Feb. 8, from 1-5 p.m.

Fermilab is America’s premier national laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research. A U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory, Fermilab is located near Chicago, Illinois, and operated under contract by the Fermi Research Alliance, LLC. Visit Fermilab’s website at and follow us on Twitter at @FermilabToday .

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Wednesday, Feb. 4 – Opening of the Art@CMS exhibit at Fermilab

  • 8 a.m. – Exhibit opens
  • 4 p.m. – Artists talk in the One West conference room in Wilson Hall
  • 5-7 p.m. – Artists reception in the Fermilab Art Gallery

Sunday, Feb. 8 – Family Open House at Fermilab (exhibit open) , 1-5 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 25 – Imagining Physics exhibit opens at Water Street Studios, noon.

Saturday, Feb. 28 – Imagining Physics reception at Water Street Studios, 5-7 p.m.

Sunday, March 15 – Final day for Imagining Physics exhibit at Water Street Studios

Wednesday, April 22 – Final day for Art@CMS at Fermilab

The Fermilab Art Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.